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It’s hard to imagine that as Labor Day 2007 approaches, we’re so deep into the presidential election process—already a week past the G.O.P.’s Iowa straw poll, for instance. One of the rituals of this process involves the foreign affairs establishment. The “serious” candidates want to establish their bona fides by making appearances in the right fora, such as the Council on Foreign Relations and its network of regional affiliates, and either they or their surrogates publish learned-sounding pieces in the major journals, like Foreign Affairs. A few days ago the new Foreign Affairs arrived carrying an article which purports to have been authored by Rudy Giuliani entitled “Toward a Realistic Peace.” I say “purports to be authored” to give Rudy the benefit of a doubt, for this is the single most cliché-ridden and dull-witted contribution ever to appear in the hallowed pages of Foreign Affairs.
In it we learn that the world of foreign policy for Rudy consists of just one thing: the long twilight battle against America’s natural and mortal enemy, Islamo-Fascism. Everything else is entirely peripheral to the Great Struggle, which Rudy is committed to winning by leveraging brute force to pummel the Enemy. And after they have been obliterated, we will have “realistic peace.” This is Cheney on steroids. And I don’t mean the rational, articulate, cautious Dick Cheney from 1994. I mean the post-microstroke, delusional Dick Cheney who shoots his own friend in the face with birdshot. The Dick Cheney of today. Rudy would substitute a tactical nuclear device for the birdshot.
So what is Rudy up to? He’s not a stupid man. In fact he’s very clever. Though not a foreign policy wonk by any stretch, he is certainly far more sophisticated than this article lets on. I have a theory. Rudy is doing what most Republicans do in the primary season, which is to tilt hard to the right. Moreover, he’s made a tactical judgment. He has a strong reputation as a social liberal which he can’t simply efface. So he plans to offset this by being the most authoritarian, national security-obsessed gorilla on the playing field. He’s betting that that core G.O.P. demographic, the Religious Right male in the Southeast, will disregard his three marriages, adulterous liaisons, proclivities for cross-dressing, alienated children and approval of abortion and will instead focus on Rudy, the meanest S.O.B. in the Valley of Death.
And Rudy and his election team also understand the paranoid style in American politics, which I just discussed in a reminder of the great article authored by Richard Hofstadter. The article uses all the tools that Hofstadter describes in order to push the buttons of the very heartland of the paranoid right in America. So Rudy and his team are not stupid. They are crass manipulators. There’s a big difference. The loser in the end is our political process, which is debased by this sort of conduct. And it leaves me more convinced than before that the man deep inside of Rudy waiting to emerge after a successful election on the national stage doesn’t care much for democracy, the Constitution, or civil liberties. He has one overriding obsession: power.
More from Scott Horton:
Six Questions — October 18, 2014, 8:00 pm
Nathaniel Raymond on CIA interrogation techniques.
On a Friday evening in January, a thousand people at the annual California Native Plant Society conference in San Jose settled down to a banquet and a keynote speech delivered by an environmental historian named Jared Farmer. His chosen topic was the eucalyptus tree and its role in California’s ecology and history. The address did not go well. Eucalyptus is not a native plant but a Victorian import from Australia. In the eyes of those gathered at the San Jose DoubleTree, it qualified as “invasive,” “exotic,” “alien” — all dirty words to this crowd, who were therefore convinced that the tree was dangerously combustible, unfriendly to birds, and excessively greedy in competing for water with honest native species.
In his speech, Farmer dutifully highlighted these ugly attributes, but also quoted a few more positive remarks made by others over the years. This was a reckless move. A reference to the tree as “indigenously Californian” elicited an abusive roar, as did an observation that without the aromatic import, the state would be like a “home without its mother.” Thereafter, the mild-mannered speaker was continually interrupted by boos, groans, and exasperated gasps. Only when he mentioned the longhorn beetle, a species imported (illegally) from Australia during the 1990s with the specific aim of killing the eucalyptus, did he earn a resounding cheer.
Percentage of Britons who cannot name the city that provides the setting for the musical Chicago:
An Australian entrepreneur was selling oysters raised in tanks laced with Viagra.
A tourism company in Australia announced a service that will allow users to take the “world’s biggest selfies,” and a Texas man accidentally killed himself while trying to pose for a selfie with a handgun.
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“Shelby is waiting for something. He himself does not know what it is. When it comes he will either go back into the world from which he came, or sink out of sight in the morass of alcoholism or despair that has engulfed other vagrants.”