John Leo
Peter Beinart thinks the left needs more anti-totalitarian liberals like Harry Truman and Scoop Jackson, and fewer anti-imperialist liberals (think, Michael Moore and George Soros) who can't seem to take terrorism and the jihadist threat seriously. "The Good Fight," Beinart's new book, is a history of liberalism for his fellow liberals, and an insightful elaboration of arguments he made as editor of The New Republic.

Henry Wallace, he believes, is the model for today's blame-America, soft-on-totalitarianism left that has cost the Democrats so dearly at the polls. When communists pushed Czech foreign minister Jan Masaryk out of a window in 1948, Wallace, America's leading progressive, thought it was America's fault. He said: "The Czechoslovakia story will repeat itself so long as our gun and dollar policies ... are continued." The modern Wallaceites feel the same way about jihadists. said: "The U.S. has become adept at creating monsters. Osama bin Laden is only the latest in a long line."

Beinart says that the New Left of the 1960s severed the tradition of liberalism as "a fighting faith" and reinstalled the notion that there are no enemies on the left. In 1963, Alger Hiss got a raucous welcome at a meeting of Students for a Democratic Society, and two years later SDS removed the word "totalitarian" from its description of the form of government it opposed. The SDS view of the world is now front and center on the left. The anti-war marches of 2003 and after were largely organized by communist-front groups and fans of Slobodan Milosovic, Kim il Jong and other fascists. Nobody cared.

For the new Wallaceites, America's biggest problem is America. The most extreme seemed to enjoy 9/11 on grounds that at last the chickens were coming home to roost. (The same perverse sense of satisfaction is now rippling though some liberal commentary on the alleged massacre in Haditha.) Some dismiss terrorism as a simple problem of law enforcement. Others in effect discount terrorism by focusing solely on civil liberties, sometimes obsessively. The New York Civil Liberties Union is upset with random subway searches, though anyone stopped by authorities is free to walk away unsearched.

John Leo

John Leo is editor of and a former contributing editor at U.S. News and World Report.

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