June 07, 2006

Ah, That Old New Republic

One of the great joys of the week is reading The New Republic, our favorite reasonable left-wing rag. Or, we should say it’s one of the great joys of the week or so, since its erratic appearance in our mailbox makes it impossible to determine its precise publication schedule.

And what, dear reader, isn’t to love about The New Republic? In every issue, readers can savor Peter Beinart’s typical “I’ve-read-one-article-by-a-conservative-and-didn’t-like-it” piece and Leon Wieseltier’s crabby pseudo-arguments. Also, we would be remiss if we failed to mention that fact that The New Republic has some of the worst graphic design the magazine industry has ever seen.

But, come on: There’s some good to be found in TNR. Martin Peretz and Yossi Klein Halevi offer dependably strong pieces, and some of the best liberal commentary can be found in its pages.

Which is why, dear reader, we were appalled to read a mind-numbingly obtuse passage in the June 5 & 12 number of the magazine. In said issue, Noam Scheiber presents an interesting piece on changes in the culture of the Central Intelligence Agency, entitled “Speak Easy: The CIA Cracks its Code of Silence.”

Yet in the midst of his otherwise inoffensive article, Mr. Scheiber offers a real howler. In order to counter the charge that “the recent deluge of CIA criticism” of the Bush administration can be chalked up the ideological cast of Langley itself, Mr. Scheiber writes:

…that’s simply not the case. In fact, while the early, Ivy-dominated CIA really was a bastion of liberalism (albeit one tempered by devout anti-communism), the demographics of the Agency shifted dramatically between the late ‘60s and the late ‘70s….Increasingly, the CIA has been populated by a kind of nonideological moderate—a figure too square to be caught up in any countercultural zeitgeist, and not so ambitious as to frown on a government payscale.

So what’s Mr. Scheiber’s proof for his assertion? Why, let’s allow him to continue:

”I was raised by a Marine, educated by Jesuits all my life,” says [former CIA analyst Michael] Scheuer. Probably the easiest way to summarize the reigning worldview within the CIA these days is pragmatic, heavily empirical, and tending toward foreign policy realism.

Aha: So the fact that Michael Scheuer was educated by Jesuits amounts to the entirety of Noam Scheiber’s proof. This is as dumb as dumb can get.

Perhaps Mr. Scheiber should become more acquainted with the maniacal ravings of Michael Scheuer—his poster boy for the non-ideological CIA.

As we never tire of repeating, Mr. Scheuer, terrorism analyst for CBS News and author of the misguided polemic Imperial Hubris, is a lunatic whose writings positively reek of ideology. Mr. Scheuer has praised Osama bin Laden as possessing “admirable character traits,” and believes that only American foreign policy and Israel’s existence are to blame for Islamofascist terrorism.

Need we remind Mr. Scheiber that Michael Scheuer infamously claimed that the American Holocaust Museum is an example of insidious Zionist propaganda? Come on, Mr. Scheiber.

Michael Scheuer is many things—for example, a myopic former analyst with anti-Semitic leanings and a creepy crush on Osama bin Laden. But he is most assuredly not a non-ideological moderate, no matter how many years of Jesuit training he experienced. You would have thought that the pro-Israel New Republic would have recognized that.

Posted at June 7, 2006 12:01 AM | TrackBack