Super Wingnut: Rich Lowry (Part III)

[The conclusion, written in August and therefore 100 percent stale. Sorry.]

[Part I, Part II]

“We’re Winning”

“We’re winning” is the biggest reason why Rich Lowry has become a posterchild for Delusional Wingnut Syndrome, not only for the ridiculousness of the sentiment itself, but also for the self-aggrandizing pronoun by which Lowry places himself in parity with the troops doing the actual fighting he’s too chickenshit to sign up for. When George W. Bush decided to invade and occupy Iraq, it inevitably followed that the United States (unless it decided to be overtly genocidal in its imperialism, which it’s fair to say was and is the preference of many on the WingNet) would fail in the endeavor; as Dear Leader himself said, “no one likes to be occupied.” And so the news from Iraq has been a steady series of tragedies and sorrow, death and carnage.

But failure is not something “manly” to admit — especially when all one ultimately cares about is Dear Leader‘s party’s power in domestic politics — and reality is not something that’s “manly” to perceive and acknowledge. So wingnuts like Lowry insist that America is winning, the tide is turning, that the impossible is possible, that the unreal is real, that the doomed immoral imperial war can be won by the power of wishful thinking if only the morality- and reality-based would shut the fuck up and the pinko-commie-fag-girly appeasers would stop trying to stab good Amurkins in the back.

For Lowry, it’s not just that “we have always been at war with Eurasia;” it’s that we’ve always been winning that war:

RICH LOWRY, NATIONAL REVIEW: Well, it should leave them pretty embarrassed. There’s no sign that it actually has, but quagmire is just one of the worst cliches in the business, and I think every reporter should have a special feature on their spell and grammar check and when they try to type in the word quagmire, it pops up and says, “Do you realize you’re using, probably, the laziest, most inappropriate cliche possible, please reconsider.”

There’s just something about Chickenhawks counting their chickens before

RICH LOWRY, “NATIONAL REVIEW”: No, they are not. They are telling us every step of this war is going to be more difficult than the last. And there has been I think pervasive defeatism in the media, which is really an extraordinary thing given how easy almost all of this has been. […]

LOWRY: Frank, I see that in, almost, every story that talks about Iraq, and I think, this is another case of this media defeatism, where it’s portrayed as the most difficult thing, in the world, for United States to go and smash the draggled Third World army in Iraq.

And if we do it, the Arab street is going to rise up against us. Well, that’s exactly the line we heard prior to the war in Afghanistan. It turned out to be false.

It’s this kind of rhetoric that gets exchanged in wingnut gatherings, delusion reinforcing delusion, until what’s left is a vortex of batshittery and you see spectacles like the architect of the Iraq war, who argued that the operation would go wonderfully, reading crap like Lowry’s insane article which basically confirms his argument:

After the dinner, while heading out the hotel, I spotted Paul Wolfowitz. He was walking very quickly and holding a copy of the conservative National Review underneath an arm. The magazine had been opened to a page bearing a story headlined “What Went Right” and written by Rich Lowry, whom I occasionally debate on college campuses. The piece begins, “It is time to say it unequivocally: We are winning in Iraq.” Since many military experts note the insurgency could go on for many more years–maybe decades–this may be a slightly premature pronouncement. And ultimately meaningless. A Japanese magazine after Pearl Harbor could have declared, “We are winning.” The first quotes Lowry offer are not persuasive. An unnamed “top officer in Iraq” says, “It’s not over.” (Wow, get this person to the Army War College right away.) And an unnamed administration officials says, “I give us a B minus.” I sure hope Wolfowitz is able to get more insightful views than these.

No, “we’re” not

Meanwhile, in the real Iraq, it’s considerably worse than even “dogs and cats, living together — mass hysteria.” It’s a fucking pointless bloodbath. But then it’s not like Lowry can’t see the war’s problems himself. It’s just that he can’t admit the war is doomed, because the true mission for wingnuts is the militarization of American society; in order to effect wingnut policies at home, war must be sustained abroad. Thus, “we’re winning” even when “we’re” not. Thus, Lowry’s “open-mindedness” about any strategy but withdrawl. Thus, Lowry’s ability to sometimes criticize the administration‘s war policies but never the war itself. How America conquers Iraq can be debated; but whether America should be in Iraq is not subject to question. Lowry’s purpose with the “we’re winning” schtick is to build morale; as is the purpose of Lowry’s occasional comments to the effect that maybe “we” aren’t winning. Perpetual war has now become a permanent part of the Republican party’s platform; needless to say, it’s also a permanent part of Lowry’s weltanshauung. It is only in this context that Lowry’s criticisms, concessions, and dissents should be fairly considered. Everything he says and writes is for the broad purpose of building a bigger, better, longer war; and for the narrow purpose of insulating himself against any blame or sense of responsibility. To deal with the latter part first:

A Problem With Pronouns

In their distrust of the mainstream media, their defensiveness over President Bush and the war, and their understandable urge to buck up the nation’s will, many conservatives lost touch with reality on Iraq. They thought that they were contributing to our success, but they were only helping to forestall a cold look at conditions there and the change in strategy and tactics that would be dictated by it.

National Review editor Rich Lowry
When the Media’s Right
December 19, 2006


It is time to say it unequivocally: We are winning in Iraq . . . Even as there has been a steady diet of bad news about Iraq in the media over the last year, even as some hawks have bailed on the war in despair, even as Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld has become everyone’s whipping boy, the U.S. military has been regaining the strategic upper hand.

National Review editor Rich Lowry
What Went Right
April 27, 2005

Split personality disorder can be a terrible thing.
Posted by billmon at 10:55 AM

Maybe it’s because Lowry picked up bad habits from Geraldo?:

LOWRY: I have to — I must confess, that a couple of times that I’ve actually caught Geraldo, I haven’t been able to turn off the TV, it makes some weirdly compelling viewing […] But let me defend the “good guys” thing, because this is a mistake.

I don’t think that the American media should try to be objective between the United States and its enemies, in this case. I think that it’s impossible to do that and it would be a mistake to try.

KURTZ: So we’re talking about — Frank, you want to take that on? Perfectly OK to talk about “good guys” and the “bad guys?”

[Frank] RICH: You know, I don’t think there really is anything wrong with it but when you’re constantly doing it, that’s about Geraldo Rivera’s self-aggrandizement, it’s not about patriotism or anything else, it’s about him trying to basically have reflected glory from the American military and tell us what a “good guy” is and it’s his own image building.

However — and from whomever — Lowry got it, his capacity for including himself in the “winning” and distancing himself from the losing is frequent:

It is, in all seriousness, it is a distressing and depressing time to be a conservative. I’m reminded of the old saying by Mao — things are always darkest before they go completely black.

In recent years, we have watched a Republican Congress disgrace itself with its association with scandal, with its willful lack of fiscal discipline, and with its utter disinterest in the reforms that America needs. And at the same time, we watched a Republican President abet or passively accept the excesses of his Congressional party and, more importantly, fail to take the steps – until perhaps now – fail to take the steps to win a major foreign war. . . .

So we need to figure out a way how to make conservative policy and principles appealing and relevant again to the American public, and we need to do it together.

Note the passive tone Lowry uses to signify a lack of agency, even victimhood[.]

Yeah, he’s fond of doing that:

National Review editor Rich Lowry slips into the passive voice:

Liberals cannot count on conservatives being associated with corruption, incompetence or an unpopular war forever.

Funny how that “association” just kinda happened to conservatives, of all people.

Lowry will only concede what he perceives to be minor errors (that, somehow, he had no part of) so that he may cling to the largest error of all. When he admits:

[M]any conservatives lost touch with reality on Iraq. They thought that they were contributing to our success, but they were only helping to forestall a cold look at conditions there and the change in strategy and tactics that would be dictated by it.

He’s not stepping back from stupidity, dishonesty and wickedness. War is Lowry’s Precious. And so to keep The Precious, he’s willing to stop being so stubborn about strategy for the greater purpose of keeping the war going. And so that’s the plan — admit error, then tinker and re-brand — though many of his wingnut colleagues can’t manage to concede even that little.

Teh Surge

The insurgency and the fight against it is about adjustments–and the fact is that the insurgents have adjusted to our adjustments that had culminated in the success of the elections and the immediate aftermath.

Thus Lowry finesses failure and alludes to the new plan: tinker, blather, “more soldiers,” lie. The war just needs a little adjustin’, says self-identified mechanic Lowry whose curiously spotless coveralls and smooth hands belie his easy assumption of expertise. And so we come to the story of “The Surge”, an all-purpose strategic and PR tool with which a cadre of rightwing (and ‘Sensible’ Liberal) technicians will supposedly fix the sputtering war in Iraq. First things first, Lowry and crew decide. It will no longer do to call it a Hot Rod:

Victory is just a new slogan away

What this war needs is a good re-branding:

Stay the course–finally, dead and buried [Rich Lowry]
Per Ken Mehlman on “Meet the Press,” the new GOP catchphrase on Iraq is “adapting to win,” rather than “stay the course.” This is a huge improvement. The last thing you want to say about a war that’s not going very well is that you are going to keep doing what you’re already doing—so “adapting” is much better than “staying.” Also, it’s important to get the word “win” in there. This is nice word-smithing, but it’s conditions on the ground that really count.

and while they won’t admit the truth that it’s a jalopy fit only for the junkyard of history, they will concede some mechanical failures and a few design flaws that just sort of happened somehow. Yes, it’s a lemon, but it still can be refurbished (“No half-way”)!1!! And that’s how “We’re winning” became “It’s winnable.

Exactly how and when The Surge was gonna work was never quite clear, but that didn’t stop Rich from claiming that it had, like, everyone’s support. Immediately, of course, he declared The Surge a success — again arguing, at least in effect, that “we’re winning.”

Motes In Their Eyes

Again, with a track record like Lowry’s — of explosive wrongness, of moronic predictions, of hubristic pronouncements, of so many facefulls of pie — you’d think that an instinct for self-preservation would require a certain forbearance… but, no. You’d be wrong. The telephone pole-sized beam in his eye that has shot clean through his melon head and stretches halfway down the street has never stopped him from pointing out, with typically easy certainty, the purported errors of others. Apparently, everybody’s been wrong except Richard Lowry. About the war, about everything. Consider the following list of ideologically varied people and institutions:

Iraq Study Group: Lowry dismissed its recommendations as “[not] terribly constructive or workable,” and “totally unrealistic.”

The Military: When Lowry’s not using the military to shield Republicans from blame over the decision to go to war, he’s deploring it as an impediment to escalation. Lowry wanted a “War Czar” in part because:

[T]he generals, I believe, oppose [adding more troops] for institutional reasons (they know what a terrible strain sending more troops will represent to the Army). We need someone who can break through all this.

And check out this revealing quote on the genesis of “The Surge”:

I was just going to say the report does leave a slight window open to more troops in Baghdad, if the commanders recommend them, if the generals recommend them. But all the indications are that Abizaid and Casey aren’t going to call for more troops in Baghdad.

So if that’s going to happen, it’s really going to require President Bush rolling his generals on the ground and insisting that this happen, even though it’s going to cause, you know, political uproar here at home, even though it’s going to be a further strain on the institution of the Army.

But if you really believe we’re in a crisis in Iraq, and what we’ve done to this point hasn’t worked, and we still have to win — that’s the crucial thing, if you still think some form of victory is possible — then I think the only logical step is to send more troops[.]

Therefore such stupid generals opposed to escalation had to be replaced by “smarter”, more pliable ones who will gladly send more troops into the shredder. Funny how that works:

Yesterday on NPR Rich Lowry was spewing his typical nonsense[…]Lowry’s theory regarding how Bush now addresses his pledge to do what the commanders on the ground tell him: well he should have never said it. He is the commander-in-chief and needs to start acting like one, no matter what the commanders on the ground tell him. The decider has a mission and he knows it better than any old 4 star general.

Colin Powell:

Lowry then went on to lambaste Powell for his role in what was then the dispute of the day, the administration “split” between the Wolfowitz camp, which wanted a wider anti-terrorist war against Iraq as well as al-Qaida, and the Powell camp, which want to “settle” for an attempt at taking out Osama Bin Laden.

Wavering conservatives: “Jacksonian” types whom Lowry, in his lecturing way, calls “to hell with them hawks”. These primarily social-con wingnuts have markedly less enthusiasm than Lowry for open-ended wars not in the national interest. They are impatient with the Bush Cultism of the National Review, and wonder why it seems to take heterodox positions on most anything but the war. They also can smell the cyanide in Lowry’s proffered Kool-Aid:

Lowry’s formulation is, at its core, colonialist […It] boils down to unquestioning support for the President’s push to democratize the Middle East.

Chuck Hagel (R-NE) and Dick Lugar (R-IN): For just — and so far, only — speaking in a non-cheerleaderish way about Bush’s Iraq policies, Lowry exploded on the Vietnam vet Hagel, sneering at his expertise and finally dismissing him as a “bore”; meanwhile, Lowry was a bit easier on Lugar, simply shrugging off his concerns as “substantively lacking.”


Maintaining the linkage between the invasion of Iraq and the war on terrorism is essentially impossible now; so the right seeks, once again, to recon?gure the nature of the relationship, this time with terrorist attacks understood as a front in the Iraq War. As Lowry put it in typical morning-after commentary, “The Spanish cut and ran from Iraq after the Madrid train bombings in 2004, hoping to take the target off their back, but painting one all the larger on the backs of any countries supporting the ?ght against extremism in Iraq.” This completely misconstrues the actual chronology of events in Spain, but accuracy is hardly necessary when the clear point is to imply that the Bush administration’s domestic political opponents are somehow in league with terrorism. “The Brits, having suffered much worse during the Blitz and the height of the [Irish Republican Army] bombing campaign in the 1970s, won’t surrender so easily,” Lowry assured us.

Donald Rumsfeld [!!!]: Ahh, there was a time when Rummy was the apple of Lowry’s eye. But when Rumsfeld resigned, Lowry suddenly “discovered” that Rummy was an ISG-style defeatist all along:

And the main “compromise” proposal — adopting the recommendations of the Iraq Study Group — would have all American combat troops out of Iraq by the end of March 2008. It is self-evidently impossible to fight al Qaeda in Iraq without any combat troops to do it. What all those abandoning the surge essentially want is a return to the old failed Rumsfeld strategy of prematurely drawing down and handing over to unprepared Iraqi forces.

Funny how Lowry never mentioned it when “we” were winning, but it seems that Rumsfeld was an open Defeatocrat all that time:

[The ISG recommendations are] warmed over Don Rumsfeld. This is what we’ve been trying to do for three years, on the theory that, if we begin to draw down our presence in Iraq, it will lessen our footprint, lessen the nationalist reaction against us in Iraq, and force the Iraqis to pull up their socks.

And it hasn’t worked for three years, and that’s why President Bush needs something new. And if we just do Rumsfeld on an accelerated schedule, it’s not going to help security conditions there in Iraq; in fact, it’s going to make them worse.

Congress and the Dept. of Homeland Security: A bunch of candyasses:

RICH LOWRY: […] I agree with Steve, it’s understandable what happened. But it’s a little bit like, you know, the Senate gets a case of anthrax, so the House shuts down. It’s a little bit like NBC having its case of anthrax and then CNN evacuating. It just makes no sense.

It was a panic reaction. And our political leaders have a responsibility to conduct themselves with some modicum of calm and dignity, and the House did not do that last week.


Everybody is going to have to live with a certain degree of being on edge. That’s just the way this is going to be.

But, you know, Tom Ridge and Tommy Thompson and others have come in for a lot of criticism over the last week, but I think it’s important to realize, ultimately, this is a foreign policy problem. And it’s not going to be solved by seizing nail clippers at airports or guarding people against anthrax. It’s going to be solved by destroying our enemy overseas, and that’s the main job here. And we shouldn’t lose sight of that.

Democrats: Ugh, what a laundry list of sneers, lies, smears, and distortions: John Kerry “speaks French,” Jimmy Carter “has the same Christian perspective….as a drunken Mel Gibson,” Howard Dean can only manage a “wisp of connection to reality,” Max Cleland should “stop whining,” and Nancy Pelosi is “absolutely crazy;” Lowry can’t even allow himself to admit that Wesley Clark might have had a good idea. But Lowry can be depended on to repeatedly lie about John Murtha, against whom Chickenhawk Rich apparently has a special grudge.

Lowry has characterized Democrats per se in the following ways: They constitute the “capitulation caucus,” whose opposition to the war is based on nothing but feelings, and who only want to honor soldiers by showing them dead. They are “fairly incoherent,” and don’t want “to hear any good news about Iraq [like, perhaps, ‘We’re Winning.’]” They are “in symmetry with al-Qaeda,” which is probably why they “just [want] to abandon the whole effort when we’re really starting to get the upper hand against Al Qaeda,” and also no doubt why “[f]rom beyond the grave, Zarqawi can only wish that the Democrats for a pullout had been able to affect their preferred policy already. Then this loathsome man who so needed killing would instead still be working his evil will.”

On the other hand, Lowry thinks the world of Joe Lieberman.

Lowry’s especially funny when he tries — which he often does — to rhetorically trick Democrats into endorsing some sort of batshit wingnuttery. LikeThe Surge“:

Rich Lowry asks:

(W)ouldn’t the honorable thing be for the Democrats as a party basically to say, “This administration has made tragic mistake after tragic mistake in Iraq. We oppose this surge. We don’t think it will work. But we really, really hope it does work. We will give it a year and anything we can do at the margins to help make it work, we will.”

Let me get this straight: Liberals think that escalation is a disaster that will yield nothing but dead Americans, a debilitated military, an inflamed region — possibly including military confrontation with Iran — and will, at best, buy some more time for a clique of theocrats to exterminate their sectarian rivals. And we’re supposed to go along with this for a year? In order to rescue the honor of our political enemies, who not only inflicted this war on the United States, but who insinuate that we’re unpatriotic whenever we point out that they keep on fucking things up? I can see how this is the honorable thing to do.

The Anti-War Left: As you might guess, Lowry saves the strongest venom for us:

Those….who oppose the war dishonor the troops who sacrifice their lives for this county and….critics of the war are enemies of “democracy and freedom” and favor only one option in Iraq and the Middle East: “tyranny, tyranny, and tyranny.”

Plus, Lefties are “vicious,” objecting “whenever we try to help someone from abroad.” (By “help”, he means bomb them into the Stone Age, steal their resources, put them under our imperial suzerainty.) Our arguments aren’t in the least persuasive, we’re “apologist[s] for Saddam Hussein,” and “partisan[s] blinded by Bush hatred,” which amounts to hating America:

Tim Rutton was doing an article for the Los Angeles Times, concerning dissent at a time of war. Then he found Little Rich Lowry:

RUTTON: In fact, to Richard Lowry, editor of National Review, the conservative opinion magazine, “The debate about the war seems pretty robust and free. Many publications, from the New Yorker to the Nation, feel perfectly comfortable printing anti-American articles and that’s fine. That’s what the First Amendment is all about.”

Rich was being very tribal, calling journals he doesn’t like “anti-American.” And don’t you love the passive aggression; the mags are “anti-American…and that’s fine,” the scribe said! Little Richie was sending signals to all his little scaled fellow travelers. To Rutton’s credit, he quickly asked the low-riding dude what he meant:

RUTTON (continuing directly): Why the epithet?

“If you think the country is a bastion only of nasty tendencies and racism and oppression, that is anti-American,” Lowry said. By contrast, the articles his magazine prints are “universally going to be pro-American and pro-Western and pro-war,” Lowry said. “It’s our business to make the case for that point of view.”

Lowry’s inner reptile was thrashing about. If you don’t agree with the things he believes, that means you “think the country is a bastion only of nasty tendencies and racism and oppression.”

Nothing can’t be blamed on strawman Lefties, from nuclear North Korea to Darfur.

But wait! Lowry can find a few Lefties to admire. Like some Liberal Hawk nimrod with a Niall Ferguson-esque thesis on American Empire, and, of course, Peter Beinart.

But it’s not, however, like Lowry can’t concede some things to the “vicious” Left. Here’s the set up:

RICH LOWRY, NATIONAL REVIEW: [….Q]uagmire is just one of the worst cliches in the business, and I think every reporter should have a special feature on their spell and grammar check and when they try to type in the word quagmire, it pops up and says, “Do you realize you’re using, probably, the laziest, most inappropriate cliche possible, please reconsider.”


[T]he idea that if the war didn’t end in a matter of weeks, it was somehow another Vietnam. And “The New York Times” repeated this idea over and over again in news analysis and editorials, just the idea that this was another Vietnam was absurd on its face.


LOWRY:[…]So it’s — a lot of the media is caught in a rut where they are caught in the Vietnam mindset[…]And the fact is that role is not correct.

Which is not the only time he scoffed at the comparison and those doing the comparing, going so far as to accuse those who used the word “quagmire” of being disrespectful to the troops.

Remember, this is Rich Lowry. So guess what happened? D’oh:

Iraq: Our Second Correct Diagnosis

Rich Lowry sort of concedes an obvious point:

For the past 30 years, left-right debate over America’s wars has traveled a well-worn rut. The Left says whatever war is in question is “another Vietnam,” while the Right denies it. After three decades of being serially wrong, in the Iraq war liberals might be making their first-ever correct diagnosis.

Remember, however, the New Right’s critique of the Vietnam War: War criminals Nixon and Kissinger were too pussified to see it through! They, and the backstabbing hippies and communistic media, caused America to fight the war with one hand tied behind its back. Withdrawal, “humiliation,” dolchstosslegende. So even if the Left is right (again), well, Lowry says the important thing is not to make the same mistake as last time:

[T]here is one other similarity with Vietnam that should be avoided — the aching sense that not everything was done to win the war. By the end of Vietnam, we had essentially beaten the insurgency and could have helped the South Vietnamese hold off the conventional invasion of the North, if we hadn’t given up.

Or, as Lowry’s pal Dinesh D’Souza put it:

“It’s customary to say we lost the Vietnam war, but who’s ‘we’?” the writer Dinesh D’Souza asks angrily. “The left won by demanding America’s humiliation.” On this [National Review cruise], there are no Viet Cong, no three million dead. There is only liberal treachery.

War — Good God, Y’all, What Is It Good For?

Lowry, like all those who think war is fun, might say that it’s better to ask what it’s not good for. He’s given many explanations of and espoused many rationales for why the war must be fought and go on — and on:

For the sake of Empire:

“The goal would not be perfection, but a pro-Western and reasonably successful regime, somewhere between the Shah of Iran and the current government of Turkey. It would guarantee the West’s access to oil, and perhaps help break up OPEC…. And it would be a nice economic benefit to the United States: If the Teamsters like drilling in ANWR [Arctic National Wildlife Refuge], they should love occupying Iraq.”


That’s why Iraq is so important. I think you’ll see the administration developing this thinking. It’s not just weapons of mass destruction. It’s when you go in and topple Saddam and install a friendly government there, then you drastically increase your leverage over the region and enables you to pressure the Saudis because you are no longer dependent on their bases, not that they’re of much use to us now anyway; you’re no longer so dependent on their oil, then you can ask them in a very serious way to stop that funding.

MARK SHIELDS: No longer dependent on their oil because we have Iraq’s oil?

RICHARD LOWRY: The world is aswim in oil; it’s not the 1970s anymore.

Sure. Anyway, what must be done is clear ‘cuz “we” all agree:

“No one wants to say it out loud, but we are all colonialists now.”

By “we,” of course, [Lowry] means all the policy wonks who inhabit the Washington Beltway, and who seem to have arrived at a “consensus” on the desirability of imperialism:

“Beneath all the vitriolic partisan disagreements about American foreign policy….there is a sort of colonialist consensus[.]”

Yeah, Rich is like that, claiming consensus where there is none. For instance, did you know that:

“The Iraq war was arrived at through the democratic deliberation of the American public, who — this is how it works — get to decide all sort of questions, even if they are not experts or don’t have personal experience with whatever is at issue.”

I seem to remember millions of people in the streets, protesting the war. Apparently they voted yes to Lowry’s national pro-war referendum.

Anyway, Rich is serious about imperialism:

Rich Lowry, recently suggested that West Africa is of such strategic interest to America, the U.S. should set up military bases in the region with a U.S. military headquarters on Sao Tome, in the Gulf of Guinea, a potental future “American lake.”

It’s that type of mentality that allows Lowry, as late in the day as Fall, 2006, to cheerily consider, if ultimately decide against, a coup against Maliki, or failing that then “we” should at the very least push some stuff through the Iraqi parliament. This several years after Dear Leader signed over “soveriegnty” to the Iraqis.

So there’s that. But there’s also sectarian and theocratic reasoning behind Lowry’s beloved War on Terra. Muslims, you see, may not be quite human:

Is [Lowry] indeed saying that European people can be counted on to comply with Western notions of rationality, but people from Asian or Islamic cultures can’t be? [Yes, he is.] If he’s not saying that, then why is he not willing to attribute to Saddam Hussein and Kim Jong-il the generically human intense aversion to death that we attributed to a series of Soviet leaders, whether or not we knew much about their inner lives?

If only the media would allow Dear Leader to speak the truth about Muslims!:

LOWRY: […] Looking deeply at these countries and at this faith in a critical way risks sort of offending important multicultural pieties, which is that all cultures are equal, all religions are equal, all religions are equally peaceful. And that just may not be the case. It may be that Islam has a slightly different character and cast. And President Bush has been ignoring that for, I think, political reasons. He has to say we’re not at war with Islam[…]


LOWRY: … but the media doesn’t have to play along with it, and so far it has. And I think that’s just because it offends our modern sensibilities. That it would seem too judgmental. It would seem too critical of a different civilization and culture.

They’re self-sabotaging collectivists (kinda like Commies?), after all:

[A]ll things being equal, people surely prefer to live in freedom than under a dictatorship, culture ensures that things are never equal. Someone living in a tribal or traditional culture will view the world differently, and have different values, than an atomized individual in the West. He might value sexual purity more than freedom, thus insisting on the repression of women. He might value his religious conviction that all of the Levant should be Muslim-controlled over freedom and life itself. He might hate the dishonor of foreign occupation more than he loves anything.

[Notice that Lowry equates the universal loathing of foreign occupiers with such non-universals as misogyny and strawman positions as “(they) prefer…dictatorship.” Regarding Iraqi opposition to the occupation, Lowry has acknowledged it before, only to immediately dismiss it when he wrote: “[I]t is natural that they should want a foreign occupying army to leave (although I doubt many Iraqi leaders privately would say they want us to leave anytime soon).” Gotta disregard the “Yanqui go home” sentiment that overwhelmingly fuels the insurgency when you’re like Lowry and want to dishonestly blame it all on al-Qaeda.]

Why, Lowry argues, Muslims are so awful that even we infidels have more regard for Islam than they do! Besides, “isn’t it rational for people to have some suspicion when every time they hear about some horrific suicide bombing or the kind of hijackings we experienced in this country on September 11, it’s Muslims doing it?”

Considering the innate perfidity of Muslims, it’s only natural that Lowry would look to Dear Leader to prosecute the much-needed Holy War: “When the chips are down, give me a freedom-loving man of faith every time[.]”

Amen, Rich:

LOWRY: There’s almost a messianic feel you get from Bush on this war. You know part of the doubts about him initially was about his seriousness, does he really take this job seriously, does he really want to be there? All during the campaign he would — he would say, oh I’ll be happy to go home and sleep on my own pillow and play with my stray cat, Ernie, if it comes to that. And some of that’s just a political pose, but some of it seemed a little too — he seemed too sincere about it. And this incident just, I think, gave him a clear sense of purpose, and he thinks maybe God selected him to do this,…

KRAMER: But he also…

LOWRY: … although you’d never say that out loud.


As Lowry put it: “Bush’s faith in the rightness of his strategy in the broader war is deep-seated — it is, indeed, a product of faith.” Bush also spoke of a religious revival — the Third Awakening — which he claims is sweeping the United States[.]

Praise Teh Lawd!!:

National Review editor Rich Lowry sheds some light on the president’s motivation for invading Iraq in a column titled “The Revenge of Orthodoxy.” Following historian Walter Russell Mead, he notices that we are in the “Third Awakening” of Protestant evangelicalism and that the Bush presidency should be stamped “Brought to you by orthodox Christian believers.” He makes clear the implications of this for American foreign policy:

The reinvigorated Wilsonian foreign policy championed by Bush—and motivated less by Woodrow Wilson’s secular values (international law, etc.) and more by religious beliefs (the God-given rights of all people)—is a reflection of Bush’s Christian base.

Obviously there are theocratic reasons for the wingnut crusade. Lowry approvingly circulates this reasoning. But don’t you dare call wingnuts Theocons!

Some of the anti-theocracy writers claim that what sets Christian conservatives apart is that their advocacy is explicitly religious. But most of the time it isn’t […] But their critics don’t want to hear it.

For such self-professed advocates of reasoned discourse, they show an appalling tendency to want to shut down the other side with their swear word of “theocracy.” They are emotional, self-righteous and close-minded. They are, in short, everything they accuse Christian conservatives of being. When the theo-panic passes, maybe a few of them will regret their hysteria.

So there’s that, too. And the standard WMD argument, of course:

RICH LOWRY, NATIONAL REVIEW: Well, if having Saddam violate U.N. resolutions is what gives us the moral high ground, we already have it. He’s been doing it for a decade.

Now, this is an idea that I think is reasonable and should be argued about, and James Baker floated it today in the New York Times. Certainly more reasonable than the Brent Scowcroft proposal, which is that we wait until Saddam definitely has a nuclear weapon and then go after him, which makes no sense at all.

But Peter [Beinart]’s right, the problem is inspections themselves are not that useful a tool. And the other problem is, we’ll basically be in the same spot in this debate the next time Saddam plays a cat-and- mouse game with inspectors.

The idea that France is suddenly going to be very enthusiastic about a U.S. invasion when Saddam engages in some mercy game with inspectors is other-worldly.

Which was, as everyone (but dead-enders at Commentary and the Weekly Standard) knows, entirely specious, manufactured at the Executive branch’s order by neocon goons in the Pentagon’s Office of Special Plans. But Lowry doesn’t believe that the WMD argument was presented in bad faith:

I don’t buy the charge that Bush has been deceptive on the Iraq war. Yes, he’s been optimistic—too optimistic for his own good at times—but this optimism strikes me as within the range of what a wartime leader can reasonably be expected to say as he tries to maintain the nation’s resolve.


I debated National Review editor Rich Lowry on this matter—a topic that should no longer be subject to debate. Lowry would not concede that Bush had misinformed the nation on the path to war. Adopting an everybody-did-it defense, Lowry quoted Democrats—such as Bill Clinton—who, before the war, had said that they believed Hussein possessed WMDs. But these Dems generally did not advocate rushing to war while the inspections process—which was succeeding—was underway.

Then there’s the neocon thing. Lowry lovingly describes neoconservatives and their foreign policy like so:

They are less worried about reducing the size of government, less enthusiastic about tax cuts, more concerned about forging national crusades that can tap either the American public’s patriotism or its desire for reform. You saw this in McCain with his campaign finance proposal and a little bit in his foreign policy.

And with the war on terror, you saw neoconservatives emerging as a distinct tendency within conservatism, mostly on foreign policy; its hallmarks being extreme interventionism, extremely idealistic foreign policy, and emphasis on democracy building and spreading human rights and freedom and an overestimation, in my view, of how easy it is to spread democracy and liberty to spots in the world where it doesn’t exist currently.

In the same interview, asked if Iraq was a neoconservative war, Lowry answered, “No….It was a war of national interest.” Ok, but Lowry sure put the neocon spin on many of his pro-war arguments:

RICH LOWRY, “THE NATIONAL REVIEW”: […Y]ou see the full sweep of the administration’s ambition in the Middle East. And it is nothing less than making a new kind of politics in the Middle East. The administration is saying, “We are no longer going to tolerate Arab dictatorships as if they were somehow inevitable.”

I think that combination of an invasion and an eventual toppling of Saddam with this pressure on the Palestinians to reform is an attempt to create a new, freer, more pluralist politics in the Middle East. And that is where the ultimate solution to this conflict is going to be found.

When Bush uses the neoconservative slogans, Lowry dutifully cheers. And he’s protective of neocons, too:

An ILR student’s question about the Project for a New American Century, and how long Paul Wolfowitz, currently a deputy secretary of defense, had been planning war against Saddam Hussein, launched a Lowry riff on “dread of neoconservatives.” He said these so-called “neocons” are people “who have a principled, consistent vision to reorient the Middle East to a climate of decency.”

That sounds like an endorsement. Is Lowry a fair-weather neocon? When it’s clear and sunshiney, he’s quick to adopt their schemes as well as even their silliest grudges:

Rich Lowry’s article contend[s] that Powell is a man without ideas. What Lowry sees lacking in Powell is “vision,” by which Lowry means that Powell doesn’t have a grandiose project to reform the world[.]

Yet he conceded that there was always a sizable discrepancy between neocon rhetoric and neocon policies:

Our vital interests and our deepest ideals are not one or we wouldn’t have military bases in Central Asia in and these terrible little dictatorships without saying word boo about how they treat their own people.

Even though he couldn’t always endorse all their rhetoric, he knew it had its purposes, which his good pal Ramesh Ponnuru, while mediating between Lowry and a fed-up John Derbyshire, is kind enough to explain:

I’d be happy with a stable government that wasn’t totalitarian and wasn’t a threat to its neighbors. 2) That goal could theoretically have been achieved with a strongman. But the drawbacks to that approach are not limited to its not being “nice.” It would probably have been harder to sustain domestic and international political support for that approach than it has been for the current one; in any case, it would not obviously have been easier.

Wingnuts got their war; and now that they have it, well, there’s no need for that “democracy” rhetoric that they never meant in the first place:

So conservative [sic] should be very careful about loosely talking about “democracy” in post-war Iraq. Pluralism, yes. Reform, yes. One man, one vote—get back to us in a decade or so.

“It’s a Liberal war no more,” Lowry enthused. Whuh? Liberal? Yeah, well, wanking around with dishonest labels like that is one of incoherent Rich’s pastimes. At any rate, Lowry flat-out denies being a neocon: “I’m not a neo-con, even if you call me one[.]” But as with so many positions he tries to weasel into and out of, his distinction of “we” and “they”, “us” and “them” depends on circumstances. Lowry definitely did not identify with neocons when he critiqued Bill Kristol: “For a while now, everyone in the US has been pre-positioning for what they will say in the event that the war really goes south. For one school of neo-conservatives, the line will apparently be that there never was an Iraq war, at least never a proper one.” And yet, and yet… when arguing for the surge, Lowry whined:

[T]he problem here is, we’ve had a very ambitious project in Iraq, one on which President Bush has gambled his presidency and all of U.S. foreign policy, and there has never been the follow-through, the resources, or the execution to make it work.

Personally, I think the diehard, dead-ending support of war by the likes of Lowry has nothing to do with national interests or strategy and certainly not idealism. Lowry lets the cat out of the bag when he writes:

Emergency, indeed: if Bush loses his edge on national security, he has nothing left.

Sure, he has to insist it’s not about domestic politics — “If I thought we were in Iraq to ‘postpone a political embarrassment,’ I’d favor pulling all our troops out today.” — but he’s lying when he does.

He Did It For The Nukey

A wingnut just wouldn’t be a wingnut without indulging in a little sociopathic rhetoric. In Lowry’s case, though, it’s more than a little and more frequent than usual.

Right after 9/11 he felt obliged to advocate sadism and mass murder:

“America roused to a righteous anger has always been a force for good. States that have been supporting if not Osama bin Laden, people like him need to feel pain. If we flatten part of Damascus or Tehran or whatever it takes, that is part of the solution.”
–Rich Lowry, National Review editor, to Howard Kurtz (Washington Post, 9/13/01)

That’s right, collective punishment. But Lowry’s depravity often is not even that coherent; sometimes it’s simply along the lines of ‘just kill somebody — anybody!’:

Sometimes you read things that make you wonder. For example, Rich Lowry’s apparent endorsement of this sentiment: “There should be retaliation. Find a terror camp somewhere and hit it. Terrorists should, for these purposes, be treated as one nation, and all should be held responsible for any one attack.”

Another of Lowry’s traits is his frothing intolerance of those (moral relativist, treasonous, objectively pro-terrorist) humanitarians who are concerned about America’s killing of civilians in Afghanistan and Iraq.

For instance:

“[Haditha] will be treated as the story of the century, or at least the biggest story since Abu Ghraib. Souls will be searched, hands wrung, and overly broad statements about our stained national honor made. Let the wallowing begin. There is an obvious agenda here, aside from the instinctive glee much of the media seem to take in any failing of the U.S. military. Haditha is a chance to drive a stake into the heart of the Iraq war.”


[Those in] the more “respectable” neoconservative media attempt to downplay the full meaning and horror of Haditha. This approach is exemplified by National Review weenie-in-chief Rich Lowry, who anticipates an orgy of “wallowing,” declares that it’s all about an “agenda” being pushed by the evil media, and gets down to the nitty-gritty:

“No large organization can be utterly free of weak or evil men. In their rush to find a broader meaning in such horrible events, liberals weirdly attenuate their own ability to condemn the perpetrators.”

In short: mistakes are made, sh*t happens[.]


KURTZ: OK. Rich Lowry, do you think looking at the coverage of this war that there was too — that the western media fell to a bit of a propaganda trap in covering perhaps the civilian causalities in Afghanistan too much, perhaps at the expense of the larger picture of the war on terrorism.

LOWRY: Yes, I think, absolutely. You know, these stories were extraordinary, and I think there was a reaction against them among some editors and we saw them temp down a little bit. But for the longest time, there’re stories everyday in Washington Post and New York Times about a bomb going stray somewhere in Afghanistan. There are a couple of things to be said about that.

KURTZ: It’s not news?

LOWRY: Well, no, it’s not news. Bombs go astray in wartime. And also we saw media organizations adopting somewhat a neutral stance between the rankest lies coming out of the Taliban and statements of the U.S. government.

Lowry, in an article titled “Collateral Nonsense” went on a great deal more in that vein, and in the process baled several impressive strawmen:


To the extent this view [demands by “handwringers” that the United States fight justly and morally, according to the standards it requires of others] holds in the West, it is essentially a suicidal impulse. Followed to its logical conclusion, it would make it impossible for us ever to defend ourselves and ever to fight for a flawed, but morally superior goal against an evil enemy – because the evil of our enemy never actually registers with anyone. This is what happened in Vietnam, when Western outrage was focused on U.S. napalm runs rather than on the murderous and oppressive character of our enemy.

Well, no: Followed to its logical conclusion, it would make it impossible for us to ever defend ourselves using immoral means. And that, I think, is an eminently logical conclusion Lowry would like to avoid.

Got that? Humanitarians have always stabbed America in the back! Anyway, Lowry’s always there to dutifully deprecate concerns about civilian casualties when ..well, when wingnutty administrations kill civilians (for their own good, argues Rich). In fact, Lowry says, installing peacekeepers in Lebanon to prevent civilian casualties would be a really bad idea. So invested is he in this position that he’ll use any argument necessary, even those that undercut his position on Iraq:

LOWRY: Well, I think that’s a real nonstarter. We had an unhappy experience concerning U.S. troops, in a Middle East dispute burning hot in the early ’80s in Beirut. Hezbollah will be licking their chops over there because there would be so many American targets.

If we insert American troops there, what are they going to have to do, in effect? They’re going to have to chase down the terrorists — Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad and the others. And that’s really the Israelis’ job, and our policy should be to let them actually finish that job off.

And when somebody writes to the effect that maybe we should have been totally genocidal when we first invaded Iraq — as John Podhoretz did — Lowry’s excitement on the subject is a dead giveaway. Though Lowry applauds the Junior Pod’s essay — and it sentiments — he remarks that alas, strategically, a more brutal policy just isn’t viable right now.

Now all this is bad enough and evidence of more than the usual amount of wingnut psychopathy. But Lowry goes beyond that. Discussing one of those paranoid hypotheticals that frequently get bounced around The Corner, Lowry said:

Had interesting discussion with fellow NRO-nik Andrew Stuttafford last night. Here’s the question: How would the U.S. respond if al Qaeda succeeded in detonating a nuke in a major American city? This is the disturbing thing: I’m not really sure what we could do any differently from what we’re doing now. What would we do? Nuke Riyadh? Baghdad? A real conundrum–let me know if you have any bright ideas about it…

Fairly passively stated, as such depravities go. Of course the passivity was not meant to last:

Lots of sentiment for nuking Mecca. Moderates opt for something more along these lines: Baghdad and Tehran would be the likeliest sites for a first strike. If we have clean enough bombs to assure a pinpoint damage area, Gaza City and Ramallah would also be on list. Damascus, Cairo, Algiers, Tripoli and Riyadh should be put on alert that any signs of support for the attacks in their cities will bring immediate annihilation. Then there are those who think we really can’t do too much differently than what were doing now (my original proposition).
Posted 4:37 PM | [Link]

This is a tough one, and I don’t know quite what to think. Mecca seems extreme, of course, but then again few people would die and it would send a signal. Religions have suffered such catastrophic setbacks before. As for the Saudis, my only thought is that if we’re going to hold them responsible for terrorism, we had better start doing it now, not after an even more catastrophic attack. And, as a general matter, the time for seriousness–including figuring out what we would do in retaliation, so maybe it can have some slight deterrent effect–is now rather than after thousands and thousands more American casualties.
Posted 4:36 PM | [Link]

From ‘wonder what would happen’ to ‘let’s be pre-emptive’ in less than four hours. Not bad. Now don’t think Lowry was just having a bad day when he wrote this; it wasn’t a bloodthirsty hiccup in an otherwise sober context. Even before 9/11, Lowry — well, “thought” is not the right word, but you know what I mean — about the subject quite a bit:

Are Americans too squeamish to vaporize Baghdad, should the need arise? This prospect has been on the mind of National Review editor Rich Lowry lately. It’s one reason he thinks old-fashioned deterrence—mutually assured destruction—can’t be counted on to keep us safe from any nuke-tipped missiles wielded by “rogue states.”

Lowry raised the issue in a column advocating national missile defense and critiquing my own critique of missile defense. He wrote: “It is not necessarily a certainty that the U.S. would be willing to make such a [retaliatory] strike, and as long as there is the barest hint of uncertainty about this, an attack on the U.S. might not be an act of suicidal madness.”

Before proceeding to the main issue—whether America would indeed pull the trigger—note the bizarre analysis in which Lowry embeds it. He says that a nuclear attack on the United States wouldn’t necessarily be crazy so long as there were “the barest hint of uncertainty” about American retaliation. So, if Saddam Hussein decides that the chances of an attack on America leading to his death have dropped from 100 percent to 98 percent, then it wouldn’t be crazy for him to attack? I hold even the most roguish dictators to a higher standard of rationality than that.

So Lowry’s racist nuke fantasy wasn’t simply an impulsive slip, nor was it merely “sarcastic understatement” as he said lamely after the horrified complaints started piling-up (Lowry had the chutzpah to accuse such people of “cheap shots”); it was pre-meditated. Which is not the same as saying it was thought through. Or was it? Was Lowry being disingenuous or ignorant when he claimed “few people would die” were Mecca nuked? It’s probably right to assume the worst. Anyway, not only is Lowry psychotic in fantasizing about nuking Mecca, he’s stupid:

Yet another reason for alarm is that Lowry’s column is likely to be picked
up and widely circulated in the Muslim world. Osama Bin Ladin himself
could not have thought up a better way of stampeding people into
al-Qaida’s arms than Lowry’s logorrhea about the U.S. nuking Mecca.

But he’s also following a wingnut tradition. Remember Nixon’s “Madman Theory”? Yeah, well, compare it to Lowry’s fantasy and get a micrometer to measure the difference:

Lowry brushed away any religious concerns about nuking Mecca by arguing that great faiths “have suffered such catastrophic setbacks before.” He justified his armchair Dr. Strangelove impression by saying that “the time for seriousness … is now rather than after thousands and thousands more American casualties.” He also noted the possible deterrent effects of radical Muslims thinking us so palpably crazy that we would reduce their holy city to a pile of glowing cinders.

And there’s another wingnut ploy at work here that Lowry’s making obvious: moving the Overton Window. It’s crazy to advocate nuking Mecca. But once that idea is out there, it has the effect of making other, relatively less insane but still objectively psychopathic, ideas seem legitimate. Thus:

“Moderates,” [Lowry] explained, opt for something more along the lines of nuking such cities as Baghdad, Tehran, Gaza City, and Ramallah. “Damascus, Cairo, Algiers, Tripoli, and Riyadh should be put on alert that any signs of support for the attacks in their cities will bring immediate annihilation.”

Ok, Lowry’s saying, meet me half-way, then! Be reasonable!

At this point you might begin to wonder, does Lowry’s conscience trouble him? Of course not. Duh:

[N]o, I don’t have trouble sleeping at night[.]

Alrighty then. So let’s go deeper into our case study. What did Dr. Lector say? “Of each particular thing first ask, ‘What is its nature?’ ….What needs does [it] serve by [doing what it does]?” Yeah, what was the response Lowry was hoping to get from his peers? I’m betting something like Joel Miller’s enthusiastic remark is exactly what he was hoping to hear:

“Lowry makes Coulter sound like a girl,” said Joel Miller, editor at the conservative Web site […] which carries Coulter’s column. He has a point, and not just about gender. Coulter only wanted the United States to kill Arab leaders and impose its own order. Nuking Mecca, on the other hand, would fry what religious pilgrims are currently there and unite the whole Muslim world in a pitched and unending battle against the great Satan.

Alas, Lowry’s deepest desire of demonstrating that he has a bigger penis than Ann Coulter was destroyed by the Macho (m)Ann herself:

After her Sept. 13 column, the tall, blond right-wing pundit was sacked by NRO when she refused to delete a reference to “swarthy males” in a subsequent column and went on television to accuse National Review of censorship and denounce its editor, Rich Lowry, as a “girly-boy.”

But the other day on the NRO Web site, Lowry wrote about […]”nuking Mecca.”


Yesterday Lowry told us that he doesn’t really countenance nuking Mecca; indeed, he’s against it. He said he was merely employing a literary device, “understated sarcasm.”

But the sarcasm might have been too understated not only for Coulter — who told us derisively that Lowry “finally comes out on the right side of things, but he’s wildly overreacting, just like a woman” — but also for Ibrahim Hooper of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

“We are demanding an apology from National Review and disciplinary action against Lowry,” Hooper told us. With his trademark understated sarcasm, Lowry replied: “I’m going to officially slap myself on the wrist.”

Poor Rich! What’s a Chickenhawk to do? Just when he thought he’d written a masterpiece of geopolitical machismo proving once and for all that he is the manliest of all manly wingnut men, Ann castrates him, and effortlessly consigns him to the pile of swishy-faggy-girly-appeasey-Liberals. That Ann: she knows exactly how to wound a fellow wingnut.

The Authoritarian

War has always been the means by which reactionaries deliver body blows to a Bill of Rights they have nothing but contempt for. From the Alien & Sedition Acts to the Palmer raids, from COINTELPRO of the Vietnam Era to the recent PATRIOT Act and concomitant domestic spying programs, only war can provide the necessary petri dish (a paranoid and fearful populace) in which “legal” devices designed to damage American civil liberties can grow. Thus, one important — maybe the most important — reason for an endless rightwing agitation for perpetual wars. More or less openly, wingnuts envy authoritarian regimes — specifically, the power the elite wields in such regimes. And so they continually try to make America resemble the enemy du jour. And Rich Lowry is just the sort of wingnut I’m talking about:

Way back in December, 2000, Lowry told an audience at the Ashbrook Center about an observation of Bertolt Brecht’s, he heard via Steve Forbes.

He said in East Germany under the Communists, when the government lost and election, the government didn’t change, the people changed. You know, they’d chase people out and exile them from the country, they’d arrest them, they’d beat them, they’d shoot them. That’s obviously a terrible thing, but there’s something to be said for that kind of thinking. I think conservatives need to think in that way when it comes to the American electorate.

Yeah, let that sink in then see if any of the following surprises.

When Lowry says things like:

And then you’d hope to get decent judicial nominations which are extremely important because we have a slow motion crisis in self-government in this country. We have judges, regulators and trial lawyers conspiring to overthrow traditions of democratic governance that have existed for centuries in Anglo-America and that were built up through revolutions and wars. Blood was spilt over establishing these traditions and we’re just kissing them away.

He’s absolutely not talking about Bush’s overthrowing the U.S. Constitution and centuries of common law precedent. Instead, Lowry’s rhetoric in support of liberty and tradition is offered in the spirit of attacking class-action lawsuits, Roe, pollution laws… you know, the real threats to liberty. Yes, he’s that hacktastic on top of being that depraved.

Only certain kinds of judges will apply the law the way Lowry thinks they ought. Like, say, Sam Alito and John Roberts. They will, Lowry hopes, reverse the current and rational interpretation of the Fourth Amendment, which he views as a contrived legal device through which devious Liberals assert a so-called right to privacy. Lowry’s legal theory is kind of radical, you say? Well, he’ll set you straight on that:

[Y]ou know, there’s been a lot of commentary, “Gosh, these guys are supposed to be, you know, conservatives. They’re not supposed to be activists.” But I think there are different kinds of activism.

Roberts and Alito were confirmed, and in the generally reactionary legal climate, Lowry must have been feeling pretty good about destroying all sorts of cherished legal and moral principles. And for the most part, he’s got what he wanted. Except for the Hamdan ruling, which — in requiring that the United States follow the rules it agreed to at the Geneva Conventions — inspired wingnuts like Lowry to scream “dolchstoss, dolchstoss.”

So, with these bits of information — that Lowry is a reactionary hack, that he’s an authoritarian, that he rejects all claims to a right to privacy — it’s no surprise that he LUVS teh PATRIOT Act and will say anything to defend Bush’s domestic surveillance scheme. Lowry’s all like, ‘what’s the big deal?’:

RICH LOWRY, “NATIONAL REVIEW”: I think, Judy, most of the guidelines that were announced today deal with pretty innocuous stuff. You know, amazingly enough, FBI agents felt constrained by these guidelines that were released back in the ’70s — set back in the ’70s — felt constrained from going on to public Web sites. You know, if someone set up a Web site called, FBI agents would feel as though they couldn’t go on there like an ordinary person.

Told ya he’d say anything. Like “libraries will become safe harbors of terrorists” if FBI snoops aren’t allowed to read over anyone’s shoulder. And any civil libertarian, liberal or conservative, is subject to a quick Lowry smear. Like:

Rich Lowry’s sarcastic suggestion that Patriot Act critics “bundle their proposals together and call them ‘The Zacarias Moussaoui Protection Act'” mock the conservative values NR should be defending.

What about torture? Is Lowry pro-torture? All signs point to yes. Oh, he feigns ignorance in the service of smearing liberals —

Whatever those secret CIA interrogation methods are that apparently helped save U.S. lives, we can be sure that a lot of liberals oppose them…

— but he knows what’s going on. And he approves it. Yup:

Rich Lowry argues that [waterboarding] is not the infliction of severe physical or mental anguish or pain.

He’s just that kinda guy:

The Washington Times’ Tony Blankley and MSNBC’s Laurence O’Donnell joined host John McLaughlin and National Review editor Rich Lowry in approval of torture. Only Newsweek’s Eleanor Clift objected. (When Clift asked her co-panelists where they would send suspects for torture, McLaughlin shouted, “The Filipinos!” while Lowry barked, “The Turks!”)

Profligate for 2008

Considering all the above (not least of which soulless Rich’s habit of bandwagon-jumping), it’s easy to guess which 2008 presidential candidate will earn Rich Lowry’s endorsement. But let’s go through the list anyway just to show what it is about each candidate that likes or dislikes. (Yes, he even has his preferences among the Democrats.):

Dennis Kucinich: “A “court jester“ who shows “the Democrats where the logical conclusion of their anti-war rhetoric leads: ignominious retreat.” Lowry also approvingly pasted an e-mail that refers to “Rep. Kucinich (D-Moscow).”

Mike Gravel: “[S]hould really be posting questions on YouTube rather than standing on the stage.”

Joe Biden: “[T]he last responsible Democrat in the field?”

Bill Richardson: “I….was appalled at Bill Richardson’s utter inability to answer why he cares so much about stopping genocide in Darfur but not—prospectively—in Iraq.”

John Edwards: By far inspires the most spittle and venom from Lowry’s direction. By Lowry’s account, Edwards is a Fag, faggy fag, a stark-raving fag, ‘demagogic,” fraudulent Southerner, fag, nauseating,“Nixonian” (Lowry, of course, means it pejoratively in this context), a “rabble-rouser… manipulative,” a fag whose friends will attack Republicans for basically calling him a fag, prissy fag, superfag, and a liar.

Barack Obama: Umm:

Lowry sets off the Irony alarms
In 2004, Rich Lowry thought “authenticity” (Bush’s) was a winning trait and Barack Obama was a moving speaker. Today, he bemoans “the vapid, feel-good authenticity of Barack Obama.”

And then, with no apparent self-awareness, he pules that Hillary Clinton is a phony who has changed her views in the past two years.

Plus, “Obama presented very well—but, man, does he look young!” And, continuing the same theme: “[A]s a colleague pointed out, there was a moment when he was saying ‘when I’m president,’ and the camera came in for a close up and caught his youthfulness so vividly and you had to think, ‘No, you’re not ready to be president.'”

Hillary Clinton: Like Rupert Murdoch, Lowry finds a lot to admire in Hillary. Here, in one nut’s shell, is why:

I thought Hillary was excellent. She never makes a mistake. She seems ready for pretty much everything. And, while she has done her share of pandering to the Democratic base, she is the only candidate operating with an eye to the general election and to the very real possibility that she will be the next commander-in-chief (see, for instance, her answers on meeting with foreign leaders and the practicalities of a withdrawal from Iraq).

Lowry’s tolerance of Democrats is directly proportional to how wingnutty they are vis-a-vis foreign policy. Hillary is many wingnuts’ favorite Democrat for exactly the same reason that Peter Beinart is their favorite liberal pundit. If the President has to be a Democrat this time, Lowry would rather it be Hillary.

Now for the Republicans:

Ron Paul: A “cranky libertarian-paleo” who merely exists to take “spanking[s]” from manly men like Rudy Guiliani.

Tom Tancredo: Alas, not a serious candidate, no doubt because Tancredo is insufficiently worshipful of Dear Leader. But, wow, Lowry can dig a fellow wingnut who agrees with the ‘Nuke Mecca’ plan.

Newt Gingrich: It’s not that Lowry thinks Gingrich can win the nomination, but he hopes he runs anyway for the effect the former House Speaker’s presence will have on the rest of the field; in other words, he thinks Newt the candidate will push everyone else to even more batshit wingnutty positions (while making their personal histories/scandals look better in comparison). Thus Lowry’s claim that Gingrich might just be “the most important Republican voice in the country.”

Mitt Romney: Okay, so Romney’s a flip-flopper, but so was Bush (and more importantly now for Lowry, so is Guiliani). Romney is “smart” and “polished”, and has that potential “CEO of the United States” thing going for him, but ultimately Romney just doesn’t seem to be an an experienced or enthusiastic enough jingo for Lowry’s tastes.

John McCain: When it suits superhypocrite Lowry, McCain the Vietnam veteran is a heroic figure. And yet as long ago as 2005, Lowry was unloading on McCain for betraying the GOP by working with Evil Ted Kennedy on an immigration bill. Crucially, Lowry can’t figure out if McCain is the front-runner or not (immediately post-Katrina, he thought McCain looked good, probably because — though Rich couldn’t say it of course — anyone looked good in comparison to Dear Leader). Lowry concedes that McCain the Maverick “is interesting and has a kind of charm,” but maybe that’s just because Rich wanted to make Chuck Hagel look bad in comparison. Finally, Lowry finds McCain unworthy — because in his view, the Senator, for a Republican, is way too honest.

Rudolph Giuliani: Rudy has long inspired in Lowry the bullshitter’s art:

GEORGE: The national drop in crime rate was driven by the New York City’s drop in crime which Rudy Giuliani…

EPSTEIN: The national rate?

GEORGE: The national drop. The percentage.

LOWRY: New York led the way. And it’s amazing Democrats still will not give him credit for that.

EPSTEIN: Well, interestingly enough, Giuliani subscribed to major Democratic tenets of crime reduction — gun control, cops on the beat — all programs that the Clinton administration and Clinton…

LOWRY: Right, broken window steering and taking illegal guns off the street, which is exactly the tactics Democrats criticized for being racist.

EPSTEIN: Absolutely not. Untrue.

Really, what’s not to like? Ok, there are problems with the Mayor’s stance on abortion, but such wrinkles are what hacks like Lowry are born to smooth. It’s obvious that Lowry would like social-cons to get over their hostility to Giuliani on this issue: Rudy’s so good on everything else that he should be forgiven this minor transgression.

Of course ‘good on everything else’ in Lowry’s eyes means in actual fact that Rudy is demonstrably horrible by any standard of human decency. Lowry was pleased to report that Rudy is an asshole:

Have been talking to some smart people today about Giuliani. Two of them said independently that the appeal of Giuliani is he’d be “a tough SOB—for you,” and that he’d be “a d—head—for you.” Another said (and he hadn’t seen Kate’s e-mail post yesterday) that a Giuliani supporter he knows considers the nasty divorce a kind of asset because it speaks to his toughness.

Giuliani is also a fascist; but the real problem with his fascist rhetoric, according to Lowry, is that people might cite Rudy’s words to paint him in a truthful light:

“[Giuliani’s comments] could be seized on by his critics to argue that he has a dangerously out-sized view of presidential powers.”

Lowry is quick to relate anecdotes attesting to Giuliani’s popularity, quick to defend Rudy from charges of Nixonism; and by the time of the first debate, Lowry was ready to label him the real maverick. Giuliani’s performance there completely blew Lowry away.

When Lowry reports:

One thing I noticed last night was that almost all the questions were on national security—people consider Rudy the national security guy. But his answers on foreign policy and military affairs aren’t deeply informed to my ear, making for an odd disconnect.

It’s not meant to diss Rudy. What matters is that Rudy is a super machoman “tough guy” with steely resolve; that he may be an empty vessel is no big deal because his sure-to-be neocon advisors will fill him in on all the necessary data.

Interestingly, this is also basically the pro-Bush argument, yet Lowry has been out there quasi-admitting to Bush’s incompetence. Whu? Ahhh, well consider: Bush is everything that wingnuts like Lowry want in a President, but he’s politically poison right now and a lame duck regardless. So Lowry admits to Bush’s incompetence but in a way that concedes fault only to Bush personally. What Lowry wants is a Bush clone — same policies, different name and face — so it’s easy now to admit the truth about Bush so that the clone, Rudy, can come in to “fix” the screw-ups.

All that matters to Lowry is that the war goes on — and, if possible, expanded. Giuliani, in his view, is the most electable candidate whose policies would best deliver that result.

Media Matters

As a dedicated liar, smear-merchant, racist, poor-hating, war-mongering, psychopathic hack, Lowry deserves his well-earned place on Fox News, and at and National Review. But why is he allowed near any place where real journalism is practiced? Why is such a dispicable figure allowed on CNN, PBS, NPR? Why would any newspaper not named Der Sturmer carry Lowry’s syndicated column?

In partial answer: because of notorious wingnutophile Howard Kurtz, through whose column in the Washington Post and show “Reliable Sources” (on CNN) Lowry’s opinions are approvingly ventilated:

Howard Kurtz delivered a flattering profile of 32-year-old National Review editor Rich Lowry. Seemingly assigned to curry favor with the GOP, the piece left the distinct impression that Lowry is a clever toady whose claim to fame is being “very clearly ambitious” without giving off “an ambitious vibe.”


The most popular guests on Kurtz’s program are conservatives. His favorite of all, judged by the number of appearances as well as the sheer number of valentines sent in his column, would have to be Rich Lowry, editor of William F. Buckley, Jr.’s National Review. According to Kurtz, Rich Lowry “oozes niceness.” He boasts an “aw-shucks charm and boyish grin” with a “sting [that] is usually softened by a soothing wit” and “enjoy(s) going against the grain.” He has, moreover, “given the magazine something of a hipness injection” by writing “such in-your-face cover headlines about Al Gore and Bill Clinton as ‘Thou Shalt Not Steal’ and ‘Farewell to the Big Creep.'” (Kurtz means this to be a compliment.) When Lowry is otherwise indisposed, Kurtz is eager to book virtually anyone else on the National Review’s editorial staff onto the program, including online editor Jonah Goldberg, managing editor Jay Nordlinger, senior editor Ramesh Ponnuru, or White House correspondent Byron York to offer up the hard-right perspectives on the news, with only the most tepid response from the center-left.

But Kurtz’s patronage can’t explain everything — even with regard to Lowry being on CNN (relish this exchange between Lowry and Josh Marshall and Aaron Brown from an episode of the mercifully cancelled “Newsnight”, for instance). The other and larger part of the answer is, of course, that in perfect opposition to the majority of Americans, the media is pro-wingnut.

True to wingnut form, Lowry thinks the “MSM” is full of moonbats; meanwhile, Lowry’s fellow victim of “bias”, Jonah Goldberg (another frequent object of CNN’s love for stupid and batshit reactionaries), hilariously demands that, in the interest of fairness, Lowry be given the editor’s position at Time or Newsweek.

The truth is — to borrow from Rich’s own opinion of Al Sharpton — that it’s appalling Lowry is allowed in polite company. The next time Lowry’s on Charlie Rose, the NewsHour, or All Things Considered, or, hell, even CNN, call or e-mail the producers and ask what they are doing allowing a person with the opinions exhaustively detailed above on their show. It probably won’t do any good, but neither will it hurt, and besides, Lowry’s such a certifiable loon and ostentatious fascist that it’s practically a moral obligation to make the attempt.


Comments: 48


Bloody hell – who do you think you are? Charles Dickens?


Jayzuz — and this Lowry bloke represents the views of the Administration?

No wonder the US frightens the living shit out of the rest of us.

Apart from that — great article. I thought when it loaded it must have had a heap of comments already, but nope – all linky goodness.


Yay, I read it all!

I get the impression that you like Lowry, and respect his opinions greatly. Or did I miss the point so subtly made?


“But it’s a little bit like, you know, the Senate gets a case of anthrax, so the House shuts down. It’s a little bit like NBC having its case of anthrax and then CNN evacuating. It just makes no sense.”



Okay, I feel better.

“RICHARD LOWRY: The world is aswim in oil; it’s not the 1970s anymore.”

Dude, “The Beverly Hillbillies” is NOT based on true accounts.


I’m really sorry to have to do this after such an excellent article – never read a piece of Sadly long enough to need sub-heads before – but the word is ‘withdrawal’, with two ‘A’s.

The only reason I always point out when I see this distressingly common error is so I can make this lame joke:

‘Withdrawal’ is what we should do from Iraq. ‘With drawl’ is how Wingnuts talk.

Of course, every word of this could contain a typo and it would still look like fucking Tolstoy compared to Lowry’s writing. Who the fuck says ‘draggled’ anyway?


So much stupid, so much time.

He approaches Kristolian levels of bloodthirsty wrongheaded batshit asshatery.

“Aswim?” “ASWIM?1?!?1?!”

That sound you just heard was the impact of my OED committing suicide from my 12th story balcony.


But if you really believe we’re in a crisis in Iraq, and what we’ve done to this point hasn’t worked, and we still have to win — that’s the crucial thing, if you still think some form of victory is possible — then I think the only logical step is to send more troops[.]

Without of course instituting a Draft because some of my friends are poseurs and lack the connections to get a deferment. Can’t you just round up some inner-city youths or something?

I also liked the part where he talked about nuking Baghdad while “we’re” in there. And the possibility of a clean enough strike to only vaporize the people in a particular city. Of course, these are the same people who are convinced it is possible to construct a suit-cased sized nuclear device that could frag NYC so I’m surprised they aren’t chattering happily about space lasers and giant robots (with bird-like heads).


Blech. Can’t even laugh at this little turd. At least someone like Jonah Goldberg or Mark Noonan or Pastor Swank is crazy and or pathetic in a funny way. Guys like Lowry are just disgusting. What the fuck is wrong with this country?


dude, too many words. sure, I read blogs 7 hours a day at work. but if to read this will literally take the whole day, and that wouldn’t be fair to my employer.


Why is that rag called National Review? It sounds suspiciously fascist to me.


We have a new candidate for “read the whole thing” …

Now, now. Relax. I kid because I love!


RICH LOWRY: […] I agree with Steve, it’s understandable what happened. But it’s a little bit like, you know, the Senate gets a case of anthrax, so the House shuts down. It’s a little bit like NBC having its case of anthrax and then CNN evacuating. It just makes no sense.
It was a panic reaction. And our political leaders have a responsibility to conduct themselves with some modicum of calm and dignity, and the House did not do that last week.

OK, aside from what Some Guy pointed out above… It’s a little bit like, you know, getting attacked by some guys from one country, so you save up your military power to go clobber a completely different country!! Heh, heh, that’ll teach ’em! And they called me a Madman! Mad like a fox!


For the record, I agree with everything said here, but just what the hell is

Note the passive tone Lowry uses to signify a lack of agency, even victimhood[.]

supposed to mean? “Passive tone”, what is that? Doesn’t Greenwald mean “passive voice”? And if he does – as I conclude from his reference to “a lack of agency”, someone should perhaps point out that there is plenty of agency in the passage he quotes. “we have watched… we need to figure out a way … we need to do it together”. The only instance of passive voice I can find the that excerpt is “I’m reminded” and that hardly qualifies as an indication of victimhood.


I guess nexst stop is claiming that Iraq war is better ran and larger victory then WWII.

After all, WWII was won for only 4 years (from the US perspective), while the Iraq war has alreaady been won for 5 years, and is still being won everyday.

Man, think about the amount of win when the war is over.


“How The US Learned The Art Of Counterinsurgency”

Weren’t these the jackasses that wanted to cut NEA funding????


But what I really wanna read is Mark Steyn on multiculturalism.

Who in the wide world of sour fuck is still bitching about multiculturalism? Are they also still listening to Milli Vanilli? Do you wanna drink this year-old milk, you dumb cunt? Who the shit is that stupid? It’s like Glenn Beck standing up to political correctness. For his next trick, he’s going to defeat the Prussian army. You think their fucking needle guns are going to save them? No. Because Glenn Beck and his man boobs are going to wipe Prussia off of the fucking map. Of course, no one will see it, because no one watches his shitty-ass show. But do you see Prussia on the map? No. That’s because Glenn Beck kicked their bony ass. AND wiped out political correctness, right before Mark “the Man” Steyn took out multiculturalism with a spinning fucking roundhouse back kick to the motherfucking jaw.

Fuck me, these guys are amazing. They kick so much non-existent ass I think I just might shit myself. How in the world can we possibly win the War of Idea with these guys? They’re like Dr. Fucking Who on steroids and bad corned beef. Every time we think we have them beaten in the present, they just hop in their fucking Fucktardis and go kick our asses in the past.

Where do they get all those marvelous toys?


Stale? Timeless, sir!


“How The US Learned The Art Of Counterinsurgency”

Have they? How? Speaking as a student of teh COIN, from what I have seen they simply stopped a bad situation getting worse. Dressed it up as an improvement based on a period of exhaustion during the civil war, and are now watching it slide into shit again.


Truly a magnum opus. What a complete, total, utter takedown of Lowry. Backed up with tons of evidence.

Lowry should be ridiculed and vilified wherever he appears, and when people ask “why so mean to Lowry?”, they should read this.


I was going to post something, but I just can’t follow Grand Moff Texan. Too good.


They’re like Dr. Fucking Who on steroids and bad corned beef. Every time we think we have them beaten in the present, they just hop in their fucking Fucktardis and go kick our asses in the past.

That has got to be Comment of the Month. ROFLMAO!

“Fucktardis”! Awesome!


“‘Withdrawal’ is what we should do from Iraq. ‘With drawl’ With drool is how Wingnuts talk.”



What the US has learned is not “how to win” a counterinsurgency, but how to SAY “we’re winning” so many times, in the face of whatever disaster has just come down the pike, that the MSM blandly picks up the baton, evidence be damned.

If we just shut our eyes, put our fingers in our ears, and repeat “LALALALALALwe’rewinningwe’rewinningwe’rewinning” and click our heels together three times, Dorothy can go home!


The hilarious thing is that when defenders of the war desperately flail about for a vine to drag themselves out of their own rhetoric, they can’t even recognize when they’re right, however unintentionally.

The war is about imperialism and control: the Vulcans had finally gotten their wish, and are standing confused staring at the broken shards of their pretty, pretty dream. Lowry gets this one piece right, but glides right over it without considering it because his method of argument is to squirt ink in a massive, obscuring cloud and FLEE! before someone tries holding him or his arguments still long enough to examine them.

Now the Vulcans retreat to a desperately panglossian view of – well, everything really – to justify their hopeless dreamscape.

Sad, really. Worse is that these idiots have actual power.

Smiling Mortician

The one-two punch of HTML’s infinitely reasoned takedown and Grand Moff Texan’s operatically impassioned rant has topped out my yin-yang meter. I am complete.


Worth the wait. Thanks.


Dude, that was a fucking tour de force! Nice job!

I never really grasped the grand scope of Lowry hackfuckittude before.


they just hop in their fucking Fucktardis

[shakes fist at GMT] Thanks! Now, when Dr. Who comes back (March, I think) and I start downloading the BitTorrents, every time the good Doctor mentions the Tardis, I’m going to giggle. [shakes fist again]

I’ve just started blogging, and in my short experience, doing the link thing really drives me crazy, so major props to HTML for all that work.


Hey!! The Los Angeles Public Library only allows me to use the computer two hours a day, & I’ve other things to do on the internet! Take it easy, HTML.


You say you began this – manuscript – last August? And you’re done so soon? Seriously, I’m in awe of your prolific-ness, prolificity, uh, whatever the noun of prolific is.


Glad I got that off my chest.

Thanks, y’all.




you should write for the nation mag.


Breathtaking inventory, right up there with driftglass’ take down of BoBo.


If Lowry had the guts, he would have written “We’re not losing”.

Like the tagline from War Games, the only way to win this was not to play. Chickenhawk dead-enders like Lowry persist because they think the only way to not lose is to keep playing forever.

Apprentice to Darth Holden

You cannot argue with a fucktard who rides around in a Fucktardis, who studied history at Yale and retained nothing, who has so mastered the principles of INGSOC that there is no way to pin them down on anything, who prides himself on his intellectual dishonesty the way a gardener prides himself on an exceptional crop of roses.

If you try to get inside their head, you flirt with insanity.

Pretty fucking frustrating, particularly if you’ve got military leadership training like myself and see men and women being casually tossed into a meat grinder for the sole purpose of sustaining the life force of parasites like Lowry.


I will be looking forward to your joining of one of our military branches immediately following the decision to use force by Obama or Clinton.

Lots of love.


Ya gotta love the guy! He apparently ascribes to the theory of the infinite number of monkey’s typing Shakespeare’s works. If he keeps “qwerty”ing long enough, he figures he just might finally type something that’s right…
There’s a special spot in Hell (if there is such a place/thing) for 32 year-old War Mongers who are too cowardly to serve.
Oh, and how do I get a job at The National Review? I’d love to write for them. I bet I could be wrong even MORE often than Lowry and Kristol. Nah, that’s not possible…


Thank you, HTML. I have been waiting for Part III for months. Would you consider a similar multi-part takedown of Joe Scarborough? For some reason, he and Lowry make my blood pressure spike more than any other fucktard righheads on the planet.


Whining about all the death and destruction, aka ‘collateral nonsense’, just makes it more difficult for us to have more wars. And we can’t have that.


I used to read National Review back in the ’60/70’s – didn’t agree with it (well, some of the foreign policy writing, maybe), but it was well-written. The writers were intelligent and offered a perspective that I didn’t encounter often, even if I didn’t agee with it.
Good Lord, what happened?


dc4me: Actually, I joined up before Clinton decided to use force. But you probably meant a different Clinton.

Doug: I’ve had a similar problem when thinking of writing to my local paper suggesting they dump the Jonah Goldberg columns and replace them with a more intellectually honest conservative voice. But who is that voice these days??


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dude, too many words.

“Too many notes, my dear Mozart”–Emperor Joseph II crtiques opera . . .


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