In his usual incisive way, David Brooks ponders the spectacle of Democratic hysteria against George W. Bush - "This republic is at its greatest danger in its history because of this administration," "I think this is the deliberate, intentional destruction of the United States of America," "The most dangerous president ever" - and concludes that this rhetoric reflects a strange but real sense of powerlessness on their part. The White House and Congress are in Republican hands; Fox News and Rush Limbaugh are shaping public opinion, and so on.
I read Brooks' article with special interest because the liberal-left has said analogous things about me, with some of the milder epithets being "McCarthyite" and "Islamophobe." I have been puzzled by this calumny: It is McCarthyism if I criticize university-based Middle East specialists? My oft-repeated statement that "militant Islam is the problem and moderate Islam is the answer" signals Islamophobia?
Brooks' analysis suggests that, like the wild-eyed rhetoric used against the president, the epithets hurled against me result from an acute sense of powerlessness by my critics. (Conversely, they have an exaggerated perception of my power; for example, see the article in the London Guardian that attributes U.S. foreign policy to the influence of the American Enterprise Institute, the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, and the Middle East Forum.)
Brooks concludes that the Democrats' monumental mistake could lead to the Republicans for the first time in modern history gaining a plurality of registered voters. The equivalent for Middle East studies would be their repudiation by the universities' stakeholders; and for the Islamists, their replacement by moderate institutions. (June 26, 2003)
Nov. 3, 2004 update: Off the cliff the Democrats went. Despite the vile rhetoric – much increased since this entry was started sixteen months ago – Bush was re-elected yesterday, adding to his year 2000 total by nine million votes, thus becoming the largest vote-getter in U.S. history. In addition, his party enlarged its majorities in the Senate and House. In retrospect, hatred as campaign motif indeed did turn out to be a monumental mistake.