Last August, I ran into Katrina van den Heuvel, editor of The Nation, who remarked to me after reading both something on The Washington Note and after Ari Berman’s excellent article, “The Strategic Class,” that “realism had become the new liberal ideology.”
Her views are echoed in an interesting rundown of “The Most Valuable Progressives of 2005” by John Nichols on The Nation‘s website today.
Despite some naysayers who had a too little/too late attitude about former State Department Chief of Staff Lawrence Wilkerson’s revelations about the “flummoxed” national security decision making process inside the White House as well as the Cheney-Rumsfeld cabal that took over the political helm after 9/11, The Nation has dubbed Wilkerson as its “most valuable progressive” in the Executive Branch this past year.
TWN supports that view. Wilkerson’s comments have both real policy and historical importance — and it is fascinating that the journal of record for the “left” in America sees it the same way.
Wilkerson is a conservative with a conscience and with a profound sense of duty and obligation to the nation, and it is a sad comment that in the climate we are in today, conservatives with a conscience are mostly abandoned by the right and are increasingly embraced by the left. This really does speak to a possible solutions-oriented, radical centrism that unites the Wilkersons and van den Heuvels in a serious discussion about national interest and foreign policy in the coming year.
From John Nichols’ piece:
* MVP — Executive Branch:
Yes, there was one. It’s Lawrence B. Wilkerson, the retired U.S. Army colonel who served as chief of staff for Secretary of State Colin L. Powell until Powell exited the State Department in January, 2005.
After leaving his position, Wilkerson began revealing the dark secrets of the Bush-Cheney interregnum, telling a New America Foundation gathering in October that during his years in the administration: “What I saw was a cabal between the vice president of the United States, Richard Cheney, and the secretary of defense, Donald Rumsfeld, on critical issues that made decisions that the bureaucracy did not know were being made.”
Wilkerson warned that, with “a president who is not versed in international relations and not too much interested in them either,” the country is headed in an exceptionally dangerous direction. “I would say that we have courted disaster, in Iraq, in North Korea, in Iran, generally with regard to domestic crises like Katrina, Rita and I could go on back, we haven’t done very well on anything like that in a long time,” Wilkerson explained.
“And if something comes along that is truly serious, truly serious, something like a nuclear weapon going off in a major American city, or something like a major pandemic, you are going to see the ineptitude of this government in a way that will take you back to the Declaration of Independence.”
That is truth telling of a quality and a scope all too rarely witnessed in the Washington of Bush and Cheney.
Nichols is on the money.
On his roster of MVPs are:
U.S. Senate: Barbara Boxer, John McCain, and Russell Feingold
U.S. House of Representatives: Sherrod Brown, Bernie Sanders, Walter Jones, John Murtha and John Conyers
Executive Branch: Lawrence Wilkerson
Law Enforcement Branch: Patrick Fitzgerald & Ronnie Earle
Citizen Branch: Cindy Sheehan
Watchdog Branch: The “After Downing Street” Coalition
Cheers to all — and more later on what is planned with Bolton Watch.
— Steve Clemons