Quote For The Day

Senate Holds Confirmation Hearing For Chuck Hagel For Secretary Of Defense

“Just as Americans in general do not have the habits of deference, so the conservative in America does not have them either. Ultimately he does not defer even to the country’s institutions. If one of these institutions, such as the Supreme Court, makes decisions he detests, he will defame that institution. He is as ready as is the common man to bypass the institutions he ought to defend … The America which Europe fears is the America of the Reaganites. The America once of the Scopes trial; the America of prohibition; the America of ignorant isolationism. The America then of ‘‘better dead than red’’; the America of McCarthyism; the America of the last fundamentalists of the 1950s. The America now of the new evangelicals; the America of the Moral Majority; the America of a now ignorant interventionism; the America which can see homosexuals as a conspiracy; feminists as a conspiracy; perhaps even women as a conspiracy.

The America of fear. For it is in fear that the ungoverned and the unfree are doomed to live. And there was this America in control at Detroit. It is time that we reminded ourselves, and said aloud and more often, that it is from these people that nastiness comes. It is time that we pointed out to the neo-conservatives that democracy has never been subverted from the left but always from the right,” – Henry Fairlie, 1980.

I love Henry’s parallelism between the “ignorant isolationism” and the “ignorant interventionism” of the 1980s. What would he have made of the Iraq War? How much more ignorant could an intervention be? But with respect to the current Republican party’s contempt for American institutions, and its use of pure McCarthyism Now check out this devastating email to Jim Fallows on the conduct of the Senate Armed Services Committee with respect to the nomination of Chuck Hagel to the Pentagon. Money quote:

“The behavior of some of the new members on the Hagel nomination is way over the line – disgraceful! They show no respect for the institution and are likely to poison its ability to work in a collaborative way. They are also hurting the institution of the office of Secretary of Defense and thus undermining our system of civilian control.”

That’s from Charles Stevenson, a “long-time Senate staffer, former professor at the National War College, and author of a standard text on the job of the secretary of defense” (in Jim’s words).

(Photo: Senate Armed Services Committee member Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) (L) talks with committee Chairman Carl Levin (D-MI) (R) as they and former U.S. Senator Chuck Hagel (R-NE) arrive for Hagel’s confirmation hearing to become the next secretary of defense on Capitol Hill January 31, 2013 in Washington, DC. By Chip Somdevilla/Getty.)