Plus A Bonus Riff on Orientalism

09.13.12

InLightened--Really, You're Smarter Than This

InLightened just asked on the thread below:

So Tomasky, would be nice to have some facts like this piece from the Daily Beast: Hillary Clinton and Mitt Romney Versus Barack Obama. Richard Grenell asks: Why is it okay for the secretary of state to reject the Cairo Embassy’s statement as weak and inappropriate, but not okay for Mitt Romney to do the same?

Well, let's see. Hillary Clinton is their boss, number one, and Mitt Romney is not, which to my understanding of things gives her rights to direct the Cairo embassy in ways that Romney doesn't possess. Number two, Hillary Clinton's criticisms were private and meant to be constructive, to try to correct a mistaken situation. Mitt Romney's were public and were meant to corral votes and inflame right-wing passion.

Really. You're smarter than this. I know you are. You used to come up with some good stuff in the Guardian days. Raise your game, man! This raises a more general point, one I've made many times.

I think you'll note that I'm pretty sparing with my analogies. Anyway I try to be. Why? Because there are almost always differences between situations. I've always said: as a general rule, I'm more interested in what's different about two situations than what's similar. In this case, Hillary Clinton is one person, and Mitt Romney is a different person, with very different interests and motives.

I read through the threads and I see these smart-alecky hypothetical questions from conservatives, you know, well, yeah, but how come when Bush did it...et cetera. Well, maybe when Bush did it, whatever "it" was, the circumstances were highly different, and "it" was more incendiary or whatever. But most of these questions that you think are so clever that you're throwing in my face just aren't.This one is kind of uniquely stupid, which is why I'm posting about it, but I will chalk that up to Grenell and not our old pal InLightened.

While I'm at it, re AuRevoirGopher's accusation that I engage in Orientalist thinking: That singes me a little, I confess, but only a little. Some of you took the word "fight" too literally in the sixth graf of the post below. I meant it in the sense of "challenge."

At the same time I don't mind in the least saying (and here, conservatives will cheer, and so be it) that yes, women having equal rights, gay people having equal rights, citizens being able to say what they like without fear of a knock on the door, the settling of disputes through politics and law rather than through violence...yes, these values and habits and ways of life are plainly superior. The Arab world needs more of them. There are many, many, many brave people in the Arab and Muslim worlds fighting for these things every day, and many more who haven't the wherewithal to get involved in the fight and who simply suffer through their days, wishing for better. But the cultures as a whole are woefully behind.

I have always said, I'd have a great deal more enthusiasm for a Palestinian state if I were more confident that that state would be a secular democracy. That's not to say I'm against a Palestinian state, which I'm not, and it's certainly not to excuse the occupation in any way, which I obviously do not. But I am free to say what I think about both, or all, sides (and I know what a privileged position I have, trust me). I don't generally worry about how my words can be "used" by the "other side," and if you don't believe me, I direct you to last week, when Matt Drudge and Rush Limbaugh and others on the right were crowing over my pan of Obama's speech. You can compare my take to some other liberal columnists'. Several tiptoed around it. I was blunt. It was what I thought.