Peter Beinart Just Got Real Stupid

Peter BeinartPeter 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?!

Each iteration of Republican gets worse. But if Trump is a new model, he’s Republican 3.01, not Republican 4.0.

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.

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

18 thoughts on “Peter Beinart Just Got Real Stupid

  1. Is Trump going to destroy the Bill of Rights with a barrage of nasty tweets?!

    You made me laugh so hard I started coughing again. Stop that! It hurts!

    I am starting to worry about the violence that has been erupting against people at Trump events. It can easily get out of hand and then we will have riots. That isn’t good.

    • It’s not good, but we’ve had riots before. And a lot of these people are right to be angry — they are just wrong about where and how to direct that anger.

      But I’m glad you liked that sentence. I was pleased with it, especially “barrage.”

      • What frustrates me as a canvasser is trying to figure out how to reach them through the noise they hear from people like Trump.

        • My experience was just people who exhibited every sign of learned helplessness. What is the point? Nothing every changes. My vote doesn’t matter. Although since Bush v Gore, it would be easier to counter that last bit.

          • I should canvass in a different state to have the happy feeling of people who just think nothing can change. It would be a refreshing change from the racists.

            • I found canvassing harrowing. I don’t think it is done like that anymore. Now there is so much data about where supporters were. But we would go to every door and people were often very unpleasant.

  2. I do worry about Trump vs. Clinton. She got more campaign experience, although the GOP will marshal “all the fucking forces of darkness” (as Peter Capaldi playing Malcolm Tucker would say it.) Clinton could easily make Rubio or Cruz looks like the fools they are. Trump isn’t campaigning on his record or intellect; he’s presenting himself as the Pure Id who always manages to come out on top.

    In a way, I think Bernie was the best personality to battle Trump (Sanders wouldn’t even pat attention to Trump’s mockery nonsense), and Clinton the best to trounce the rest of the GOP field. Bernie doesn’t exactly radiate “serious president” the way those GOPers were trying to, and Hillary could stomp all but the only one who isn’t trying to seem serious.

    This to me was the scariest possible outcome.

    Just finished watching the second season of Capaldi in “Doctor Who,” and when it comes out on Netflix I’ll let you know. It had some terrific stuff. His first season, I don’t think the writers quite knew what to do with him. There’s one fun episode, “Time Heist,” but the rest focus on Capaldi’s intensity rather than his funny side. I’ve been watching the best of the second season with my friend and we’re having a ball. What a perfect mad-alien-with-a-time-machine he is.

    • Why? I think Clinton has enough experience with overhyped egos (from Armey to Lazio) to know how to neatly skewer someone like Trump making him look like exactly what he is.

        • I don’t know why you seem to think she is so massively incompetent at campaigning against blowhards, her history doesn’t indicate that at all.

        • And yes I know that sounds peevish but I am still sick so have lower tolerance than even normal.

          Sorry.

          • No worries! Sorry you’re sick!

            I think she’s very competent. I fear that Trump supporters love him precisely because he’s an ignorant blowhard who “made it big.” The fallout from years of underfunding our schools, allowing our media to turn into garbage, have created a lot of dumb-dumbs out there (not all of whom are unintelligent, but most of whom are vastly ignorant.)

            Those people won’t respond to Clinton’s intelligence. They’ll hate her for it. What they see in Trump is how they ideally see themselves; an idiot who can push all those smarty-pants-sorts around. I think Sanders might have appealed to the better part of their natures; the anger over being ignored, not the blaming every non-white-male angle Trump goes for.

            But, hey. Women voters were smart enough to reject Palin, who was Trump beta testing, and they’ll probably save us from The Donald, too.

            Incidentally, not to clog up the “recent comment” sidebar, I really liked two things I read of yours and think they might make excellent posts. Putting up with creepy stalkers and how women’s friendships differ from men’s. Not exactly easy subjects to write essays on, though.

            • Clinton is pretty good, at this point, to adapting to her audience. So I am not worried. Especially if there is a debate where they get to walk around the stage. He won’t be able to stop himself from trying to use his size to intimidate her and she will just let him piss off every woman in America with that. I can actually see her turn to the camera and shake her head like “can you believe this guy?”

              As for the two topics to write about-oh there are tons of essays over how women feel being hit on by a creepy old man. And a great deal on women’s friendships in films and in real life.

              • That’s a great visual; I hope we get to see something like that.

                And, yeah, there are lots of essays on everything. Doesn’t mean I don’t want to read new ones from a fresh perspective.

                Should I live long enough to be old, I plan on being the creepiest old bastard in the nursing home.

      • Yeah, I’m coming around to that view too. Also, over the last month, I’ve come to see that Trump really only has a couple of tricks that he uses. It would not be hard to prepare for a debate against him. The fact that the Republican field has done such a bad job is an indication of just how incompetent the party is rather than anything else.

    • The 1988 election was so important to me because I saw how things just get weird. Long before Willie Horton became an issue, I had read about him in Reader’s Digest. And I thought, “We’re in trouble.” It was a totally meaningless thing, but it seemed to have huge consequences. Now, of course, I just look at the economics and say that’s all it was. But that’s kind of the point. The truth is that the Willie Horton ad wouldn’t have meant anything if the economy had been crumbling.

      Trump is a bad candidate. Sure, he has a large fan base but nothing at all like what he needs to win the election — or even probably the nomination. But there is a good section of the electorate that just go with the tide. And under the right circumstances, they could vote for Trump. But they wouldn’t be able to tell you why. And listen to Trump voters today: they can’t tell you why either. The best I’ve heard is a lot of, “He is a successful businessman and so I think he can run the country.” Well, that’s a claim that has been widely made about politicians and has nothing to do with reality. And Trump, in as much as he’s been, is successful because he gamed the political system, not because he’s smart or a good negotiator.

      I’m feeling more comfortable about Clinton vs Trump. But you never know. And I still think that Trump is the least vile of the Republican candidates — very much including supposed moderate John Kasich — a man so committed to the poor he’s made food stamps harder to get.

      • I appreciated your point about how Adolf and Benito had their own armies. Trump IS running as a fascist, but has no army. There are loads of loons out there playing camo-shooter in the woods or occupying government offices 300 miles from anywhere, but they’re more disorganized than the left even. TV pundits and newspaper columnists might all follow the same right-wing talking points; anti-gummint loonies each have their own maniacal Constitution fetish, and probably would fight each other over pathetic details if they tried to join hands.

        I agree that Trump is the least doctrinaire of the GOP candidates (and, as an outsider, has little party loyalty.) I just don’t want any Republican to pick SCOTUS spots. As for his chances against Clinton, perhaps I worry too much. As long as the turnout is larger than just the loonies, we should be OK.

        • On the army issue, I think you’ve got it right. Those fascist militias were well trained. We’ve seen that the right wing loons here find that they rather like their middle class lives when push comes to shove. There are the same people who have voted for policies that have stopped our generation from having middle class lives.

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