Peter Beinart is a liberalish writer who makes me wonder about our country. He was born into his job. He had the right parents, went to the right schools, and then, of course, New Republic hired him because he was liberish writer who could depend upon to be a war cheerleader that Andrew Sullivan so loved. That doesn’t mean he’s stupid. Not at all, in fact. Intelligence is mostly a matter of environment, and Beinart has had a great environment. I’m just saying that he wouldn’t be a contributing editor at The Atlantic and no one would have published his mediocre books. I’m saying that he might be writing for struggling daily if he had been raised by retail clerks from the central valley.
But he does write interesting articles from time to time, like his article on the new new left. So I was excited to see he wrote an article, Why Liberals Should Vote for Marco Rubio. The base argument is that if you live in a state where you can vote for any party, you should vote for Rubio. I thought, “Great idea! Because Marco Rubio would be a terrible candidate!” But alas, that is not the argument that Beinart is making at all.
Peter Beinart’s “Common” Sense
One thing you can count on from Peter Beinart is that he will give you the common wisdom of the pundit elites. And that’s what we get here. We are supposed to believe that Trump is such a threat to America, that we must support Rubio. It’s funny that Beinart dismisses Trump being more liberal on the Iraq War, given that Beinart himself was very much in favor of the Iraq War until it all fell apart. He had to write a whole book about why he was wrong. But I guarantee that he hasn’t learned a damned thing, as I discussed before.
Peter Beinart argues that we should want Rubio over Trump because “Rubio respects the Constitution, and in particular, the Bill of Rights. Trump does not.” First, that isn’t at all clear. Should Trump win the presidency, he is going to learn what all new presidents learn: he doesn’t have as much power as he thinks he has. Governments are a whole lot more than their leaders. So how did Hitler take total control of Germany? How did Mussolini take total control of Italy? Both men had their own private militaries. Is Trump going to destroy the Bill of Rights with a barrage of nasty tweets?!
Oh, and Trump says the things out loud that the other Republican candidates only imply! Oh, what a difference that has made in our country! All those African Americans who are blown away by police each year don’t have to hear the n-word first! Yes, this is a good reason to support Rubio. Because it is clear that… Wait, it actually doesn’t make any sense at all.
But one thing is certain, according to Peter Beinart, “Once Trump is nominated, America will have crossed a line.” Really?! If that’s true, it’s an arbitrary line. He wrote, “A man who does not respect Constitutional limits and who preys upon vulnerable minorities will lead one of the two major parties.” I would say that applied to Ronald Reagan and there were plenty of liberals at the time who said the same thing. Each iteration of Republican gets worse. But if Trump is a new model, he’s Republican 3.01, not Republican 4.0. Beinart is basically saying that the Nazi Party would have been better in a fundamental sense, if they hadn’t said bad things about Jews, but still rounded them up and worked them to death.
The truth is that I basically agree with Peter Beinart’s conclusion. It’s just his logic that makes no sense. I think Marco Rubio is a political lightweight. He’s only reached the heights he has because he’s good at sucking up to the right people. I would look forward to seeing Rubio and Clinton on the stage in a debate. No reasonable person could see them together and conclude that Rubio is fit to run this country. Trump, on the other hand, is light on his feet. He is charismatic. Under the right circumstances, he could win.
But Peter Beinart’s idea that Rubio would be a better choice for America is one of the stupidest arguments I’ve heard in the last couple of years.