March 7, 2009

James Fallows defends the indefensible

James Fallows in the Atlantic has taken the position of defending Chas Freeman - the Obama appointee who (1) is too close to the Saudis (2) seems anti-Israel and (3) thought the Chinese were too lenient in their crackdown on the students in Tiannamen Square who were engaged in a peaceful protests and attacked by TANKS.

His rationale for defending the Obama selection, besides blind allegiance to a leader who made a dubious and questionable selection?

Freeman's longstanding contrarian inclination to challenge conventional wisdom of any sort, far from being an embarrassing liability, was exactly what a president needed from the person in this job.
Overriding any sense of international justice, since it wasn't perpetrated by the 'Bush regime', Fallows throws his weight behind someone who thinks what? More students should have been killed? More arrests should have been made? The suppression of free speech should have been more brutal?

The students were looking to make democratic reform. They were not burning and looting the city. But perhaps that is the precise problem. The people on the left, just as they pay lip service to the men and women in the military, seem to have developed a stance of paying lip service to democracy, all the while despising it. To them there is only one real truth and it is theirs. Socialism is good, capitalism is bad.

Using the most twisted gymnastics of logic seen in some time, James Fallows defends his position;

...For any of those roles, a man like Freeman might not be the prudent choice. But as head of the National Intelligence Council, my friend said, he would be exactly right. While he would have no line-operational responsibilities or powers, he would be able to raise provocative questions, to ask "What if everybody's wrong?", to force attention to the doubts, possibilities, and alternatives that normally get sanded out of the deliberative process through the magic known as "groupthink."
The problem with his logic is that some things are still black and white - cracking down on a sit-in by sending in tanks is a brutal and tyrannical response based on the retention of power, and it has no place in the modern world. This is not China of the Emperor Qin era. There is no 'what if' in this case. And the self-defeating argument of avoiding "groupthink" strays beyond the hypocritical into the realm of absurdity.

Fallows also argues that having contrarians is a good thing, in that they serve as a check and balance to an otherwise established view. True. The problem in this case is that the views he espouses don't seem to be all that contrarian with the President's pro-socialism stance on everything, and that means that Freeman is in fact marching in lock-step with the rest of the far left and therefore offers no alternative viewpoint that

The decision to select Freeman was a bad decision. Admit it. It's something liberals, in their arrogance seem incapable of coming to grips with. While conservatives are not always immune from that, there are plenty of instances where we can take issue with our leaders - Harriet Meyers, and amnesty for illegals spring to mind. Liberals however seem incapable of admitting their guy made (another) bad call.

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