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On the Maintenance of a Healthy Public Sphere...

In what may be, I think, my last link to The New Republic, Jonathan Chait has an excellent article on the shrill screeds of Bush hatred emanating from the right:

TNR Online | Binge and Purge (1 of 2) (print): by Jonathan Chait: In "The Man Who Would Be King," the late-nineteenth-century Rudyard Kipling story later turned into a movie, an English adventurer named Daniel Dravot becomes the regent of Kafiristan, a remote mountainous region north of India. Dravot leads the Kafiri people to a string of battlefield victories, and they receive him as a God, the son of Alexander the Great, and turn their treasure over to him. But then they see him bleed, and--discovering he is mortal after all--turn on him with unbridled rage. Mobs of tribesmen denounce him as a fraud, chase him out of the temple, and ultimately send him plummeting to his doom.

Something similar is happening now to George W. Bush. Not long ago, conservatives hailed him as a fearless leader in the war on terrorism, a great man of history, Reagan's son. Long after the patriotic upsurge following September 11 had crested, the conservative base held him in awe. "George W. Bush has been a resolute and even heroic president in a terrifying time," wrote David Frum. Bush is "not only a good and trusted war leader, but a cunning and bold political leader," editorialized The Washington Times.

Now his former acolytes are furiously denouncing him. The American Spectator recently published a special issue devoted mostly to detailing the litany of Bush sins. One recent book (Impostor, by conservative columnist Bruce Bartlett), a forthcoming book (Conservatives Betrayed, by right-wing activist Richard Viguerie), and innumerable op-eds (e.g., "how the gop lost its way," by Reagan biographer Craig Shirley) condemn the president as an ideological turncoat...

Why my last link? Because I also read in the New Republic tonight:

The Plank: [Juan Cole's] writing and speaking had a not inconsiderable anti-Semitic whiff.

Juan Cole writes a lot that I think is wrong, a lot that I think is ill-phrased, and has I believe many illusions about the Middle East. But his writing and speaking do not have "a considerable anti-Semitic whiff."

There do need to be sanctions against organizations that--like the New Republic--defecate into the stream of reasonable debate. What should they be?

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