Over at the Wall Street Journal, James Taranto tackles an interesting question. But, boy, does he have to get through some wild stuff before he's done. Here's the whole piece.
Zbigniew Brzezinski, the man who advised Jimmy Carter on national security, offers some informal advice to President Obama in an interview with the Daily Beast, an oddly named Web site:
DB: How aggressive can Obama be in insisting to the Israelis that a military strike might be in America's worst interest?
Brzezinski: "We are not exactly impotent little babies. They have to fly over our airspace in Iraq. Are we just going to sit there and watch?"
DB: What if they fly over anyway?
Brzezinski: "Well, we have to be serious about denying them that right. That means a denial where you aren't just saying it. If they fly over, you go up and confront them. They have the choice of turning back or not. No one wishes for this but it could be a Liberty in reverse."
This is insane on several levels. The USS Liberty was a U.S. ship that the Israelis accidentally attacked during the Six Day War in 1967--although conspiracy-minded anti-Semites suggest the attack was deliberate. Is Brzezinski a conspiracy minded anti-Semite, or is he suggesting that he would like to see the U.S. shoot down Israeli planes accidentally?
Whatever he may mean by the creepy analogy, though, Brzezinski seems to be making a serious policy suggestion--one that represents a reductio ad absurdum of the Obama administration's foreign policy. The administration has bent over backwards to be conciliatory toward enemies and adversaries (Iran, North Korea, Russia) while taking a tough line with America's allies (Israel, the Czech Republic, Poland, Honduras, possibly Afghanistan). But even the Obama administration hasn't militarily attacked an ally to protect an enemy.
This is something of a pattern. Quite a few Obama supporters have made statements that are meant to be supportive of the administration yet are far crazier than anything the president or any of his men have said. Obama, for example, denies that his planned government takeover of the health-care system would result in old people being put to death. Most Democrats and liberal mediaoids repeat this denial as if it were gospel truth.
But not Todd Gitlin, an unreconstructed New Leftist from the 1960s, who complained a couple of weeks ago that Obama was "still not willing to talk to Americans straight about the need to limit high-tech medicine for the very old and very frail." Also not Newsweek, a liberal opinion magazine, which published a piece recently titled "The Case for Killing Granny."
Or consider Jimmy Carter's recent remarks to the effect that it is racist to criticize Obama. The president himself has been very careful to renounce such a view, because he's sensible enough to realize that berating someone as a racist--especially someone who voted for a black man as president, as many of Obama's critics did--is no way to persuade him. But Americans are getting berated left and right by people who say they support Obama. Newsweek even attacked American babies as racist.
Does all this lunacy help or hurt President Obama? We could argue it either way. Maybe it helps by making Obama look reasonable by comparison. Or maybe it hurts by making the least charitable interpretations of Obama's policies look plausible. If no one believed America should attack Israel or set up death panels, then it would follow logically that Obama does not believe those things. Since some people--some Obama supporters--do believe these things, it becomes harder to dismiss them outright.