George Will considers Peter Beinart’s call for a renewal of old liberalism a la 1947 (and beats up on Robert Kuttner in passing). He thinks it an admirable exercise, similar to what Bill Buckley did regarding the Birch Society in the 1950’s, but, alas, Will thinks Beinart will not be so successful. How can he convince a base that is fueled (as it would seem) by the likes of Michael Moore and MoveOn.org? As a relative matter, Buckley’s GOP base was hardly influenced by the Birchers; besides, they were wrong about some things, yet did not have contempt for the American people, as Beinart’s liberals do.
The reason that Moore is hostile to U.S. power is that he despises the American people from whom the power arises. Moore’s assertion that America "is known for bringing sadness and misery to places around the globe" is a corollary of Kuttnerism, the doctrine that "middle America" is viciously ignorant.
William Voegeli wishes Beinart luck with giving liberalism a fighting faith for the second time, but he is also not optimistic. He thinks that liberalism crossed the Rubicon with Vietnam, and there is no going back to the ADA of 1947; in fact the ADA, along with Arthur Schlesinger, et al, left their 1947 version of themselves in 1967 when they broke with LBJ. Besides there is a connection between their domestic and foreign policies. A snippet from this thoughtful essay:
We should expect, then, that the same qualities will animate liberalism’s domestic and foreign policies. Whether dealing with terrorists abroad or delinquents at home, the first impulse will be the same. As Joseph Cropsey wrote forty years ago, "The liberal view is consistent with itself in applying to domestic as well as to foreign affairs the dictum that trust edifies and absolute trust edifies absolutely." Accordingly, liberalism’s faith in forebearance and mediation is as strong in the international arena as in the domestic: "Among nations, [liberals believe], there are no genuine issues but only attitudes or states of mind which, if they are inconducive to peace, can be removed by the methods of conflict resolution, or exorcism of mass delusion and neurosis."