Moral equivalence is not the way to determine who has embraced "the paranoid style in American politics."
11:00 PM, Feb 27, 2005 • By PAUL MIRENGOFF
WHAT ABOUT conservatives? Let's take, for instance, the conservative blog I contribute to, Power Line. For one thing we are not anti-compromise. A majority of the three-man crew at our blog supported Arnold Schwarzenegger for governor instead of the far more conservative alternative. We also supported the elevation of Arlen Specter to Senate Judiciary Committee chairman. And we strongly support President Bush even though we disagree with key elements of his domestic agenda.
In addition, we posit neither the infiltration of our government by conspirators nor the existence of a powerful internal enemy who "manufactures the mechanism of history or tries to deflect the normal course of history in an evil way." In our cosmology, no American politician is creating crises for profit or ideological satisfaction.
We were accused of embracing the paranoid style after my colleague, John Hinderaker, said that former President Jimmy Carter "isn't just misguided or ill-informed; he's on the other side." I added that "it's difficult to understand in what sense [Carter is] on our side." However, we have never portrayed Carter as an "amoral superman--sinister, ubiquitous, powerful, cruel, sensual, luxury-loving." In fact, we view him as mostly weak and ineffectual. Nor do we claim that he intentionally creates crises for reasons of pleasure or personal gain (we did suggest that he sought to influence Soviet immigration policy, in a direction I would have regarded as positive, to help his 1980 reelection effort; but we also presented the contrary perspective).
In my view, Carter believes, in good faith, that American policy is so misguided, and American power so badly misused, that (absent a fundamental transformation) the world would be a better place if the United States were weaker and less influential. Consequently, as a private citizen acting openly and essentially alone, he has advocated and pursued courses of action intended to make us weaker and less influential. This view may or may not be correct, but it lacks nearly all of the elements that Hofstadter included in his description of the paranoid style.
Paul Mirengoff is a contributor to the blog Power Line and a contributing writer to The Daily Standard.