Scarborough Hits Liberals For Hypocrisy On Libya

If you want to level a charge of hypocrisy against Democratic Party lawmakers, knock yourself out. But leave the rest of the "liberal" movement out of it, especially if you can't actually make the case.

In his opinion piece at Politico today, Joe Scarborough asks, "How can liberals call for Qadhafi's ouster when they opposed the war against Saddam?"

It's a good question! And it would have helped if Scarborough had, you know, identified some liberals who were taking that stance, so they could be asked that. You know, like, maybe a link, or something? So I could see such hypocrisy in action? This is apparently too much to ask.

But, okay! Scarborough says that "for a decade," President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney were compared to Hitler and Stalin, "condemned as an immoral beast who killed women and children to get his bloody hands on Iraqi oil," by anti-war activists and CODE PINK, etc. "But," Scarborough says, "in the morally murky afterglow of the Obama years, the certainty of these secular saints has melted away."

Only I'm not sure a lot of this is true.

President Barack Obama bowed to his generals' demands by tripling troops in an unending war. CODEPINK did nothing.

Not true! CODE PINK wants a ceasefire in Libya. The head of the organization, Medea Benjamin, has repeatedly called for an end to our involvement in Libya. She's been on the teevee. She had a press conference at the White House last week. CODE PINK has highlighted the efforts of women in the Middle East working to bring about peace in the region.

Here's what they have to say about escalating in Afghanistan: "CODEPINK Stands Firm Against Military Escalation in Afghanistan." So, let's absolve CODE PINK right now of this "doing nothing" charge.

Obama backed down on Guantanamo Bay. Anti-war protesters stayed at home.

You know, unless you count the protests over Guantanamo Bay that are constantly happening. Just last week, in fact, "A 31-year-old Des Moines woman protesting conditions at the Guantanamo Bay detention facility in Cuba reported being assaulted Sunday while taking part in an anti-torture vigil at the corner of Valley West Drive and University Avenue in West Des Moines."

America invaded its third Muslim country in a decade. The American left meekly went along.

Actually, on March 19, 2011, I was actually standing in front of the White House in Washington, DC, and, lo, what did I see? Anti-war protesters, not meekly going along. Daniel Ellsberg was arrested, actually, that afternoon, while participating in those protests. Here's a relevant Associated Press report from that day:

More than 100 anti-war protesters, including the man who leaked the Pentagon Papers, were arrested outside the White House in demonstrations marking the eighth anniversary of the U.S.-led war in Iraq.

The protesters, some shouting anti-war slogans and singing "We Shall Not Be Moved," were arrested Saturday after ignoring orders to move away from the gates of the White House. The demonstrators cheered loudly as Daniel Ellsberg, the former military analyst who in 1971 leaked the Pentagon's secret history of the Vietnam War that was later published in major newspapers, was arrested and led away by police.

In New York City, about 80 protesters gathered near the U.S. military recruiting center in Times Square, chanting "No to war" and carrying banners that read, "I am not paying for war" and "Butter not guns."

Similar protests marking the start of the Iraq war also were organized Saturday in San Francisco, Chicago and other cities.

In California, hundreds of people marched in downtown San Francisco. Hundreds more, including students from more than 40 high schools and community colleges, marched in Los Angeles in protest of the U.S. presence in Iraq, organizers and police said.

Some used the rallies to draw attention to the new military action in Libya.

"You can't stand by and watch people being slaughtered. At the same time you don't want to foster war. It's walking a very fine line," Bishop Otis Charles told KCBS-TV at the San Francisco protest.

So, going forward, we can count many liberals as having not "melted away" just because Obama is in the White House.

The very first name of a liberal that Scarborough provides is Katrina vanden Heuvel, of whom Scarborough writes:

Katrina vanden Heuvel, one of the few liberals to take a principled stand against what America is doing in Libya, has written in The Nation that the anti-war left has been silent since Obama took office because they don't want to hurt the president's reelection chances.

Yes, they've been utterly silent if you discount people like Robert Greenwald, or, or any of the examples I've cited above.

Eventually, Scarborough gets around to fingering a worthy culprit:

Democrats streamed to the floors of the House and Senate to praise the president for invading Libya. It was, after all, a moral mission that would stop the slaughter of innocent civilians. Whether protesting for peace or calling for war, these liberals once again convinced themselves of the moral superiority of their positions.

BREAKING! Many Democratic lawmakers are feckless! You may have noticed this already, seeing as how after they campaigned to be elected in 2006 on a platform of ending the Iraq War, they didn't actually do anything to end the Iraq War.

So, yes, a lot of people who are now praising Obama for going into Libya withheld their praise for Bush's endeavors in Iraq, but they still nevertheless tacitly supported those endeavors with their actions (see Chapter Six, The Great Derangement, by Matt Taibbi).

Let me be clear: I am nothing if not entirely willing to concede this point to Scarborough. I think, though, that it's more than possible to discern a distinction between Democratic Party lawmakers and all liberals. If you want to level this charge against lawmakers, knock yourself out. But leave the rest of the "liberal" movement out of it, especially if you can't actually make the case.

Now, I like to be helpful, and as it turns out, I was able to find an example of the liberal that Scarborough suggests is widespread, someone who is "unabashedly cheering the liberation movement" in Libya while maintaining that "Libya 2011 is not like Iraq 2003 in any way." I can also embed a link on the Internet to this specific example. Just watch!

That person is Juan Cole, and he explains his reasoning, in a thoughtful manner, in his "Open Letter to the Left On Libya." The tone of Cole's piece seems to be at odds with Scarborough's experience in that it suggests that there is actually insufficient fervor for the Libyan intervention on the left. And in his response to Cole on these pages, Robert Naiman seems pretty confident that he is speaking for the majority of liberals when he says that "There doesn't appear to be any plausible way right now to try to completely undo the fact that the Obama Administration has made this power grab for the war-making power of the Executive Branch, which goes beyond anything that the last Bush Administration did on war powers."

So I don't know what liberals Scarborough is referring to, but whoever they are, they should stay away from open flames. Because straw ignites rather quickly.

UPDATE: I figured I'd be a further help here and provide another name and another link if Joe or anyone else wants to take another stab at this argument: Tom Matzzie, who on these pages writes that he is "Anti-War, But Supporting Obama on Libya." Please note that Matzzie nevertheless avers that he is "deeply concerned about the path the president is choosing," and admits that there "is a strong anti-war case for staying out of Libya," so it's not clear if this is actually useful in arguing that the entire left has hypocritically switched poles on the issue of war. (Matzzie is also clearly treating his position as the minority one, within the leftist, anti-war community, who he still insists have "important roles" to play.)

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