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Saturday, March 07, 2009
An Obviously Impartial Reference

Good lord. The Chas Freeman nomination looks like it's going to crash on the shoals of Freeman's rather absurd "realist" statements, so Steve Clemons gets a recommendation from... Freeman's son.

A cabal of ideological hardliners has orchestrated a remarkable, self-referential smear campaign against my Dad's appointment, dragging Congress and the political process into this non-political sphere. They are wrong to do it, and not just because my Dad is involved.

This brouhaha has come up in the last few days. To me, the Freeman defenders have had far the worst of it, which is why their argument is focusing on the motivations of his opponents and not on Freeman's statements. As Jonathan Chait (not my favorite pundit by a large margin) correctly notes:

And even if you suppose this entire world view is merely a construct to justify support for Israel, there are arguments to be dealt with. Walt refuses to defend Freeman on his ties to Saudi Arabia and extreme defense of China, thinking he can wave it all away by shouting "Israel-lover!" at the critics in the hopes that this will rally liberals to Freeman's side. The method of Walt's argument is vastly more distrurbing than the substance. Walt is arguing that any Jewish-American who does not roughly share his views on Israel (which, of course, disqualifies the vast majority) is presumptively acting out of dual loyalty, is probably coordinating their actions in secret, and should thus be dismissed out of hand. I think Walt has come to this conclusion on the basis of his foreign policy worldview rather than out of animus against Jewish people. But it's a paranoid analysis whose consequence is to make the debate about Israel much more stupid and mired in attacks on motive.

And indeed, that is precisely the argument Freedman's son offers up:

His appointment is being challenged these days by a small cabal of folks that believe first and foremost in the importance of allegiance to Israel as a core U.S. priority. Putting aside my natural instinct as a son to want to punch some of these guys in the face for some of the things they are saying about my father, for heaven's sake, I'm more deeply angry about the lack of guile some of these people have.

It is, as Chait rightly notes, a way of waving away all the other idiotic stuff Freedman's said on 9-11 and on China.
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