He’d be with McCain, not Obama, on Ukraine.Mar 24, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 27 • By ELLIOTT ABRAMS
Henry M. “Scoop” Jackson was a congressman and then senator from Washington state from 1941 until his death in 1983. Jackson was a traditional Democrat: liberal on domestic policy, strongly tied to the labor movement, and a hawk on national security matters. He was very much in the tradition of Truman, Kennedy, and Johnson, with all of whom he worked closely—as he did with George Meany and Lane Kirkland at the AFL-CIO, who were also Cold War hawks. That tradition began dying after the Johnson presidency, as the party’s nomination of George McGovern in 1972 and Jimmy Carter in 1976 (and Barack Obama in 2008) demonstrated. Perhaps a better proof was the fate of Joseph Lieberman, the last of the “Jackson Democrats,” who was his party’s nominee for vice president in 2000 but could not get renominated for his Senate seat in 2006.
I first met Scoop Jackson in 1971, and while a law student volunteered on his 1972 presidential campaign. We stayed in touch, and I told him that if he ran again I’d like to be a full-time part of his staff. In March 1975 I moved to Washington and worked for his Senate staff until the end of 1976. From the day I met him in 1971, I was proud to be considered one of “Scoop’s Troops.”
In the 1970s and 1980s there were many of us Jackson Democrats and many references to the “Jackson wing” of the party. The meaning was clear: Democrats who cared deeply about defense issues and were hawks. They believed in military superiority for the United States, and supported big defense budgets. More important, they believed that American power was a great force for good in the world, which was not the view taken by the “McGovern wing” of the party—whose heir Barack Obama seems to be.
They were of course reviled. Jackson was called a militarist, a racist, “the Senator from Boeing,” “a man with a military-industrial complex,” a “Dr. Strangelove,” and so on. The insults rarely fazed Scoop, though in fact, if ever a man were a moderate by temperament and in policy matters, it was he. One of his favorite words was “prudent,” and his view of Lebanon was a good example: Almost alone among senators in the 1970s, he paid very close attention to developments there and cared deeply about its fragile democracy, but he opposed the Reagan administration’s decision to send American troops there in 1982.
He did not think sending a small peacekeeping force was the right role for a superpower, he thought they would be a target, and he worried what would happen if they were killed—exactly what happened in 1983. The idea that Jackson was a mindless hawk, rather than a careful proponent of American power, is and always was ridiculous.
Why the history lesson? Because several weeks ago the columnist David Ignatius enlisted Jackson to support his own views of national security policy, and to attack Senator John McCain. Now it happens that McCain and Jackson knew and admired each other. After returning from prison in North Vietnam, McCain became the Navy’s liaison to the Senate, and in that position spent many hours at Jackson’s side, accompanying him on foreign trips.
The year was 1980. The Iranian revolution had toppled the shah’s regime, the Soviet Union had just invaded Afghanistan and the United States’ president, Jimmy Carter, was widely perceived as a weak leader. Looking for a sharp-edged evaluation of the situation, I decided to interview Sen. Henry M. Jackson, a leading hawk.
What Jackson (D-Wash.) said was surprising, even at a distance of nearly 35 years. Rather than demanding tougher statements or more saber-rattling, he said he worried about “overreaction” to events: “We appear to be going from one crisis to another,” with Washington dispensing “red-hot rhetoric at least once a week about the dire consequences of this or that or something else.”
“We need to be prudent,” said Jackson, who was perhaps the most prominent Cold Warrior of his day. “There is a need for the U.S. to make careful decisions, stand by those decisions, and avoid sending false or conflicting signals” to U.S. allies or the Russians. Jackson’s message, in essence, was “cool it.”
Now, the condescension in Ignatius’s comments is offensive (even at a distance of 35 years). He was amazed that Jackson did not match the stereotype the media had created of Scoop the militarist who would be screaming and demanding bombing whenever a crisis arose. My God, he was “sharp edged” and a hawk, yet thoughtful and reasonable. Only a journalist who bought the stereotype about Jackson could have been surprised. Jackson was always careful, believed the United States should never bluff, and believed we needed to have strong, reliable policies if we wanted to have strong, reliable allies.
They owe it all to Obama.Mar 24, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 27 • By FRED BARNES
President Obama is a gift to Republicans. His policies, his partisanship, his allegiance to liberal interest groups, his indecisiveness—they all have served Republicans well. Without Obama’s self-destructive presidency, Republicans would probably be somber today. Instead they are bursting with optimism about the November midterm election.
Mar 17, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 26 • By FRED BARNES
President Obama talks, talks, talks about jobs. The first 20 minutes of his State of the Union address in January was all about jobs. Immigration reform would “create jobs for everybody,” he said. His energy policy “is creating jobs.” Obama said he’s assigned Vice President Biden to make sure training programs match workers with “good jobs that need to be filled right now.” Last week he described his new budget as “a road map for creating jobs.”
It can—and must—be done.Mar 17, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 26 • By ERIC EDELMAN
On the last day of February and first day of March, Russia’s mendacious foreign and defense ministers told their credulous U.S. counterparts that Russia had every intention of respecting Ukraine’s independence and territorial integrity. Of course, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is virtually the poster child for Henry Wotton’s famous definition of a diplomat as someone sent abroad to lie for his country. Russian assurances to their U.S. counterparts during the war in Georgia in 2008 were equally deceitful.
Hosted by Michael Graham.3:32 PM, Mar 1, 2014 • By TWS PODCAST
The WEEKLY STANDARD podcast, with editor William Kristol on the situation in Ukraine.
What Congress can do in response to an administration run amok Mar 10, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 25 • By JEFF BERGNER
Many Republicans—and a handful of independent commentators like George Washington University professor Jonathan Turley—have been highly critical of President Obama’s executive branch overreach. The president has arbitrarily delayed, deferred, or ignored provisions of numerous laws, none more so than his signature Obamacare legislation. There is indeed much to criticize; no other president in recent times has usurped congressional lawmaking powers to the extent Barack Obama has.
Mar 3, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 24 • By WILLIAM KRISTOL
Kiev is ablaze. Syria is a killing field. The Iranian mullahs aren’t giving up their nuclear weapons capability, and other regimes in the Middle East are preparing to acquire their own. Al Qaeda is making gains and is probably stronger than ever. China and Russia throw their weight around, while our allies shudder and squabble.
Why is this happening? Because the United States is in retreat. What is the Obama administration’s response to these events? Further retreat.
What happens when a political messiah fails?Mar 3, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 24 • By JAMES W. CEASER
Every student of American religious history has heard of the event known as “the Great Disappointment.” In 1818 William Miller, a former naval captain turned lay Baptist preacher, developed a new method for calculating biblical chronology to arrive at the conclusion that the millennium would take place sometime between 1842 and 1844. Finally published in 1832, Miller’s thesis quickly drew attention. A sect began to form, spreading from Miller’s home region in Eastern New York to New England and beyond. Millerism was born.
Hosted by Michael Graham.4:25 PM, Feb 12, 2014 • By TWS PODCAST
The WEEKLY STANDARD podcast, with executive editor Terry Eastland on whether the courts will weigh in against President Obama's tendency to change the rules without the input of Congress.
Feb 17, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 22 • By ETHAN EPSTEIN
A graduate of two Ivy League institutions, the author of one highly regarded book (the less said about The Audacity of Hope, the better), and a former lecturer at the University of Chicago, President Obama has a reputation for being something of an intellectual. It’s clearly part of his self-conception as well; “I’m comfortable with complexity,” he’s been known to say. And as anyone who slogged through David Remnick’s Ulysses-length interview with him in the New Yorker last month can attest, Obama likes to laboriously argue both sides of any issue.
It’s not a nudge when it comes from Washington.Feb 17, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 22 • By ABBY W. SCHACHTER
Cass Sunstein had to be the happiest academic in America following President Obama’s recent State of the Union address. After all, in just four short years he got his analysis of how people need help making good choices—a nudge in the right direction he likes to call it—from manuscript to a brand new retirement savings vehicle. Of course, Sunstein took a break from academia to become Obama’s first regulations czar, so the president was already a fan of the Harvard Law professor.
Hosted by Michael Graham.5:15 PM, Feb 6, 2014 • By TWS PODCAST
The WEEKLY STANDARD podcast, with senior writer Mark Hemingway on why the IRS scandal won't be going away anytime soon.
Hosted by Michael Graham5:30 PM, Jan 31, 2014 • By TWS PODCAST
The WEEKLY STANDARD podcast, with editor William Kristol on why the Republicans shouldn't move aggressively on immigration reform this year.
Feb 10, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 21 • By JEFFREY H. ANDERSON
President Obama has just announced the creation of a new program, which he calls myRA, as part of an overarching agenda he’s implementing, which could well be called myConstitution.
Feb 10, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 21 • By THE SCRAPBOOK
Where you stand on President Obama’s State of the Union address last week depends, to some degree, on where you sit. Liberals thought the president was feisty, determined, basking in the glow of historic achievements, throwing down the gauntlet at obstructive Republicans. Conservatives thought the president seemed decidedly out of steam, listless, defensive, excessively partisan, willfully ignorant of dangerous problems, threatening to govern by executive fiat.