Friday, November 12, 2004

No, I'm not a neoconservative

It's easy (and often important) to apply labels to things, and even to people, so that they may readily be understood.

But sometimes labels are incorrectly applied. That's what happened today in an otherwise fine article appearing in the New York Sun.

The article reported on some insider buzz that National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice might be named to replace Donald Rumsfeld as Secretary of Defense. Newsman Jamie Dettmer called to ask if I would be willing to go on the record about why Dr. Rice would not be the best person for the job.

Only one other person, my friend Frank Gaffney at the Center for Security Policy, agreed to be named. The article is fine until the penultimate paragraph, in which an editing error mis-identified me as a "neoconservative."

While I have many neoconservative friends, have a high regard for their intellectual firepower, and have worked with them for years in areas where we agree, I've seldom been mistaken for one myself.

Neoconservatism's intellectual founder, Irving Kristol, once described neocons as liberals who have been "mugged by reality." A handy, recognizable, and unforgettable label.

But one that doesn't apply to me. I've never been liberal so I never needed the mugging.


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