Pajamas Media is linking to lefty blog Crooks and Liars, which has video of John Bolton appearing on Hardball. It’s a fairly unspectacular clip, with Chris Matthews challenging Bolton over his insistence that the US can’t allow Iran to get nuclear weapons. Bolton makes his case calmly and persistently, while Matthews and a Middle East ‘expert’ who doesn’t sound like much of one, and who makes infantile comments about ‘Nintendo wars’ and the like, become ever more excited.
The reason that the poster at Crooks and Liars is so excited about the clip is that at one point Matthews calls Bolton a ‘neocon’, and Bolton responds sharply that he isn’t one. “No,” sneers the poster, “Mr Bolton isn’t a Neocon – he just thinks, talks and acts like one.”
Bolton, as anyone who knows anything about anything knows, isn’t a neocon. Without getting bogged down in the history and ideas of the neoconservative movement (you can do that here), two of its key tenets are the spread of liberal democracy, and military intervention on moral grounds, regardless of whether American interests are at stake.
Bolton doesn’t go along with these principles. He's made it clear that he supports military action insofar as it’s necessary to protect American interests, and if the spread of liberal democracy happens to be a by-product of that action, then fine. He’s not a neoconservative, and never has been one.
Of course, the ignorance of Chris Matthews isn’t particularly revelatory (elsewhere in the piece he claims that the US should respect the results of Iranian elections), and Crooks and Liars appears to be a fairly harmless lefty blog dealing in conspiracy theorising and general moonbattery (Noam Chomsky is ‘a quiet voice of truth’; Hugo Chavez isn’t a dictator; Joe Wilson must be taken seriously).
What I found surprising – maybe I’ve been living a sheltered life – was the ferocity of the comments about what is basically a dull, snarky post about an uncontroversial interview. It’s not so much the content that’s surprising – the unanimous agreement that Bolton is, absolutely, a neocon, or the claims that Iran needs a nuclear bomb to deter Israel – but the pure, foul-mouthed, boiling hatred of the majority of commenters.
Dozens call Bolton a Nazi or a fascist (doubtless their understanding of both terms is on a par with their understanding of ‘neocon’). Many use swear words and sexual epithets. Some attack Christians, and one calls for Bolton, along with all Christians, Jews and Muslims – but especially Christians – to be murdered. All very nasty, but predictable. Others, however, rail against Matthews and the MSM for being ‘right-wing thugs’, on the grounds that they allow people like Bolton to speak at all, and are ‘muzzling’ the Democrats. A few attack Hillary Clinton, Joe Lieberman and the Democratic party in general.
It occurred to me that these are people who have got to the stage where they’re so far beyond the pale that there’s almost no one left in the real world to represent them – and what representatives they do have will never again be elected to positions of power in America or any other democracy, except for the occasional Harry Reid figure who will achieve, and be remembered for, nothing. The absolute best these people can hope for (and the absolute worst conservatives have to fear – we could, as Charles Krauthammer said, live with it) is Hillary Clinton, and others like her in the future, who will throw them a few crumbs of domestic comfort while pursuing a foreign policy that, while not entirely to convervative tastes, will in the broken minds of the far-left be indistinguishable from that of the Bush administration.
Some of them are people who long ago lost every ideological battle they engaged in, and have nothing left but hate, while others have never had an ideology, just the hate. Judging by the comments, a few of them have reached the point where they have nothing left to look forward to but a nuclear holocaust in which America comes off worse than her opponents.
I’m trying to figure out whether it’s the hatred that leads to the ignorance, or the ignorance that leads to the hatred – or whether the two are inseparable. Don’t any of these people ever pause and think that perhaps it’s they who are out of step, and not the rest of the band?