I have a friend who is a “paleo-con,” the right-wing opposite of a neocon. A couple of years ago, he got me a gift subscription to The American Conservative, a magazine co-founded by Patrick Buchanan a number of years ago. It was illuminating reading. This group combines old-fashioned conservative social policy with a mostly isolationist foreign policy. They love to criticize the neocons (and Israel– often in the same breath) every chance they get. Once I noticed one of M.J. Rosenberg’s dovish columns (I don’t know if Rosenberg should laugh or cry). Occasionally, they publish anti-war writers from The Nation.
I once had the fantasy of writing a piece for them where I would expound upon the neoconservatives’ Shachtmanite socialist roots, something I know about personally from having been a Yipsel — a member of the Young People’s Socialist League — in the late ’60s and early ’70s. But they’ve already done it, sort of, with a piece by Scott McConnell in the Jan. 2, 2007 issue. He comes up with an answer on something I’ve wondered about, why my CCNY Yipsel comrade, Josh Muravchik, never was appointed to the Clinton State Department:
“In 1992, a significant group of neocons signed on as advisers to Bill Clinton, and the Democratic standard-bearer, eager to shed the McGovernite label neoconservative publicists typically draped around his party, entertained their counsel during the campaign.
“But appointing them to strategic foreign-policy posts in his administration was another matter. Soon enough, press coverage of the Clinton transition was filled with neoconservative grumbles of being shut out. In one noteworthy example, Beltway neocons strongly backed Joshua Muravchik’s aspiration to be assistant secretary of state for human rights. But like many neoconservatives, Muravchik had a long paper trail, and his job search did not survive Washington Post columnist Mary McGrory’s illumination of it. ‘Plainly if the president-elect is looking for a human rights director who thinks Mrs. Clinton is a post-Cold War Communist dupe, the search is over,’ wrote McGrory.”
McConnell writes from a right-wing perspective, which explains why he’d refer to the neocons’ “anti-Stalinist socialist” roots with “anti-Stalinist” in ironic quotation marks. He also makes them into pro-Israel fanatics, which is true of some, but not all of them. Furthermore, he gives them way too much credit (read: discredit) for Bush’s Iraq policy. But overall, it’s good reading, and he gives them a well-deserved thumping. Click here for McConnell’s entire article.