Dogs Could Help Bridge DC’s Foreign Policy Divides


david frum steve clemons benson twn.jpgFor those of you who can’t laugh now and then, move on. I’ll be serious again soon. Promise.
The pic above is one of David Frum, myself, and a very pleasant pup named Benson — who claims to own journalist Martin Walker and spouse Julia Watson (publisher of the blog eat Washington)
David and I have both had our turns at each other. After all, he did have much to do with coining the term “axis of evil” for use by our still incumbent President — and I don’t remember the exact phraseology he used but think he referred to me once on his prominent blog as “lunkheaded.” I know some of you agree with him.
But beyond all the public hype and foreign policy drama that surrounds some of the more notable personalities, Frum, his wife, and others and I had a fantastic dinner and discussion just before the presidential election. Frum was pro-McCain and anti-Palin but steadfast in his decision to vote Republican. Danielle Crittenden, Frum’s spouse, was not high on McCain and definitely not high on Palin, and shared that she was tilting Obama’s way.
I admitted that I hoped that Chuck Hagel was somehow going to parachute in at the last minute (fantasy) — but that I had to tilt Obama’s way.
Benson the Amazing Basset Hound was key to the evening’s success and softened Frum enough to see at least some things my way. And then, Danielle Crittenden did write this wonderful piece about Sarah Palin that I think was classic.
I’m sharing this because I can’t keep secret any longer the fact that I had a great time with David Frum, Danielle, and the rest — and am going to be doing so again tonight.
I regret that David may get roughed up more by Bill Kristol and some of his friends at AEI for this disclosure than I will by my readers (particularly POA). . .or so I hope.
And lest you ask, dinner conversations are always off the record.
More soon.
— Steve Clemons


22 comments on “Dogs Could Help Bridge DC’s Foreign Policy Divides

  1. arthurdecco says:

    “Frum was pro-McCain and anti-Palin but steadfast in his decision to vote Republican.”
    How can Frum vote in America? Has he renounced his Canadian citizenship to become an even worse American?
    And of course, I’m with the crowd that wonders why war criminals like him aren’t rotting in prison rather than being feted and fawned over by people like you, Mr. Clemons.
    Someone said it above – Hitler loved dogs too.
    “It’s gonna take more than a doggie love PR piece on Frum to cover what he is…an egotisical, exceedingly stupid litte fop and typical run of the mill zionist smear artist.” Posted by Carroll
    Thank you Carroll, for describing this phony little man as accurately as polite language permits.


  2. Carroll says:

    It’s gonna take more than a doggie love PR piece on Frum to cover what he is…an egotisical, exceedingly stupid litte fop and typical run of the mill zionist smear artist.
    Saturday, January 10, 2009
    Democrats and Israel 2
    David Corn objects to my article this week on Israel and the Democrats.
    My article began with this observation:
    A Rasmussen poll conducted in the last week of 2008 found that while 62 percent of Republicans backed Israel’s action in Gaza, only 31 percent of Democrats did. Almost three-quarters of Republicans blamed Hamas for starting this war; only a minority of Democrats agreed. Republicans are 20 points more friendly toward Israel than Democrats.
    I proceeded to offer 4 explanations, each grounded in polling data, about the likely reasons for this gap.
    1) Democrats are more likely to oppose the use of force by any nation under any circumstances:
    A 2005 MIT poll found that only 57 percent of Democrats would support the use of American troops even to destroy a terrorist training camp. (Compared to 95 percent of Republicans.)
    2) Democrats are more likely to favor negotiations under almost any circumstances:
    55 percent of Democrats believe that Israel should have tried to find a diplomatic solution to the Hamas rocket barrage.
    3) Generally, high-information voters lean toward Israel in the Middle East, while low-information voters are less favorable. And low-information voters tilt strongly toward the Democrats. (This is a very well attested fact about US politics, see for example Carpini & Keeter What Americans Know About Politics and Why it Matters, p. 175. readable through Google Books here.)
    4) Finally, I mentioned a fourth factor:
    Democratic attitudes are poisoned by the influence of an anti-Zionist hard left, a vociferous faction whose ideology can bleed into outright anti-Semitism.
    It was this point that triggered Corn’s outrage.
    [A]ccording to Frum, “Democratic attitudes are poisoned by the influences of an anti-Zionist hard left, a vociferous faction whose ideology can bleed into outright anti-Semitism.”
    Yes, the anti-Semitism card. This is the main thrust of his article.
    No doubt, there are people who don’t fancy Israel’s attacks on Gaza due to their own anti-Semitism or anti-Zionism. But Frum is engaged in the time-honored tradition of rigging the debate (j’accuse!) on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
    Corn’s piece prompted a sharp and precise response by Jamie Kirchick, on the Commentary blog:
    Perhaps if Frum had said that anti-Semitism was the only, or major, reason “why Democrats recoil from Gaza,” it would be fair to say he was playing “the anti-Semitism card.” Yet exploration of this factor is not “the main thrust” of Frum’s argument; it’s the last of four. And rather than engage with these other points, Corn does what so many people antipathetic to Israel do, he falsely accuses his interlocutor of carelessly throwing around charges of anti-Semitism.
    To which I would add one more point. What’s most surprising about Corn’s piece is that he reproaches me for mentioning anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism – even as he acknowledges that I am right that these prejudices do play a role in shaping this debate. Let’s go to the tape. Corn again:
    No doubt, there are people who don’t fancy Israel’s attacks on Gaza due to their own anti-Semitism or anti-Zionism.
    “No doubt there are people?” We can do better than that – we can count them, as Rasmussen did and as my article said right at the very top. About 8% of Democrats (and only 1% of Republicans) describe Israel as an “enemy” of the United States. Obviously that’s a minority even within the Democratic party. But it’s not an infinitesimal minority. About 1 Democrat in 12 helds vehemently anti-Israel views.
    That’s not a “card.” That’s an empirical observation. Maybe Rasmussen’s poll is wrong. But it is certainly consistent with polling on US attitudes toward Israel generally.
    I thought my article in The Week was very clear, but let me be clearer here: I am not contending that the leadership of the Democratic party heeds its anti-Zionist and anti-Semitic one-twelfth. I am not contending that anti-Zionism is the most important influence on rank-and-file Democrats. (I did after all place it fourth on my list of reasons, not first.)
    What I did say was that these attitudes have a measureable influence on the attitudes of Democrats as a group. If this latest poll is correct, 8 times as many Democrats as Republicans express intense hostility toward Israel. That’s not an accusation. It’s arithmetic.
    David Corn may feel that such facts should not be mentioned in polite society. Perhaps he shares PJ O’Rourke’s view: “Just as some things are too strange for fiction, others are too true for journalism.”


  3. Carroll says:

    Posted by PissedOffAmerican Jan 11, 1:16PM
    Huuummm…I am thinking of numerous people…James Bamford, Sy Hersh,etc…who pubically condemn people like Frum, regularly expose Orwellington DC, ….and still manage to have deep contacts and eyes and ears within DC and it’s dens.
    Beware catching the palace vanity party’s let them eat cake syndrome.


  4. JohnH says:

    If I ever had dinner with any of these folks, I’d be sure to ask what defense contractors, foreign governments, and oil companies are sponsoring their ideas.
    As we all know, there’s a “market” for some ideas and absolutely no funding at all for “pacifist” ideas, such as the just war doctrine.


  5. Don Bacon says:

    Let’s look at “foreign policy divide” by first considering what a comparable ‘domestic policy divide’ might be.
    There are some members the population in any country who think that it’s quite all right to kill, torture and/or injure certain of their fellow citizens. Is this an honest difference that can be discussed over dinner? No, of course not. But somehow it’s just fine to discuss international murder, torture and injury as a mere “foreign policy divide.”
    Horsefeathers and poppycock. What it is, as POA has often eloquently stated, is a moral deficiency.


  6. Outraged American says:

    I would have thrown a shoe at Frum, just before I shoved it down
    his throat. The man helped condemn more than 1.2 million Iraqis
    to their death.
    Hitler loved dogs, and children too. Steve, would you have sat
    down for dinner with him?


  7. erichwwk says:

    Nice post, and kudos on openness to all opportunities, to be non-judgmental.
    “If you want the truth to stand clear before you, never be for or against.
    The struggle between “for” and “against” is the mind’s worst disease. – Sent-ts’an, c. 700 C.E.
    A similar quotes from Abraham Lincoln’s inaugural addresses:
    From the first:
    “I am loath to close. We are not enemies but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.”
    And from the second:
    “It may seem strange that any men should dare to ask a just God’s assistance in wringing their bread from the sweat of other men’s faces, but let us judge not, that we be not judged.”
    [from Jill Lepore’s article, The Speech” in the Jan. 12 issue of the NYorker]
    One of the things that originally attracted me to TWN is that Steve recognized so clearly the value of being inclusive in directing and hosting the September 2005 conference on “Terrorism, Security and America’s Purpose”
    “If you want the truth to stand clear before you, never be for or against. The struggle between “for” and “against” is the mind’s worst disease.” — Sent-ts’an, c. 700 C.E.
    I’ve often thought it ironic that the CIA has chiseled into marble, at its entrance:
    “And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.”
    But perhaps the CIA sees a difference between what THEY “know as the truth”, and what they allow to be “publicly perceived” as CIA truths.
    Hopefully Obama will seek and find the truth in the role secrecy plays in state security … and in the spending and administration of public funds in such programs as TARP. Is it only the elitists that get to know the truth, and be set free? Is the intent to keep the rest enslaved?


  8. PissedOffAmerican says:

    It may interest Steve to know that my dog, Jake, came from a litter whose bitch was owned by an ex Navy Seal who is a hopeless redneck and Bush worshipper.
    The guy is quite colorful, huge, and ALWAYS sure to be wearing red white and blue, if only on his suspenders. He is a product of the San Joaquin Valley farming community, redneck to the bone.
    He and I have had one conversation about politics, it was short, terse, and mutually combative. From that point on, our friendship and our conversations have been an amiable mix of shared interests; stock dogs, metal sculpture, wood-working, local wildlife, and personal recovery from past addictions. I see him as I see myself, products of our upbringings and life experiences. Our friendship works because we have found and nurtured our similarities, and accepted our differences. Its a shame that nations cannot seem to grasp this simple solution to conflict.


  9. PissedOffAmerican says:

    It seems that in Washington one must just consign themselves to consorting with the devil. I see little difference between the right or the left, although, perhaps, one side is more visibly satanic, which might even make them less dangerous. Its the unseen snake that usually bites you.
    I have no idea how I would evolve, (devolve?), if my career was dependent upon wooing those that have the reins of power. I suspect the tittilation must be overwhelming, and the more powerful the circle you are mingling with, the greater the tittilation.
    It seems our society has accepted evil in the higher levels of the castes, while still exhibiting abhorence when the evil resides within our own ranks and nieghborhoods. We are appalled when one of our own murders an offspring, conducts a driveby, or molests a neighbor’s son. But murder on an epic scale, conducted by an elite class of monsters, zealots, and shameless war profiteers is accepted as a matter of course, and justified under the guise of “national interest”.
    Who knows what we would become in Steve’s shoes? What would be acceptable, inviting, repulsive, or intolerable? Would what is good within me dissappear with a growing intoxication with the proximity to power? I don’t think any of us know the answer, until we’ve walked that path. I am sure that Steve, in his heart, knows what dwells there. I am comfortable giving him the benefit of the doubt.
    Frum, is a different story. He has shown us what resides within, and to any reasonable human being, its an abomination. One does not contribute, intellectually or physically, to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of human beings, and escape the taint of evil.


  10. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “And perhaps Nina could take a picture showing POA having a meal with Tahoe, WigWag and Varanasi?”
    Well, that menu wouldn’t work with Nina. She’s a vegetarian.


  11. Carroll says:

    Ah, would that everyone lived in a Washingtonian world…where everything is only a polite difference of opinion, where bombs don’t fall on dinner parties, where congressional pay raises happen automatically, where taxpayer money flows like water, where health care is at their beck and call, where there is no accountability, where nothing is illegal or immoral, where the respulsive are welcome and truth is banned…..ah yes they live on Venus and the rest of the world is just interplanetary debris floating out there far away.
    One of these days…


  12. rich says:

    It’s been tough to hear Frum bloviating unchallenged these past years. But here’s some Realism for ya:
    Nearly 10,000 Afghans have volunteered to fight in Gaza–and closely tie the U.S. to Israel’s military agendas. Just when we need to win over Afghan popular support–it’s not gonna happen.
    Israel’s willingness to turn the conflict with Palestine into a wholesale war is generating ‘terrorist’ blowback on a macro-regional regional scale. Only we can’t call it ‘terrorism’ anymore, because it’s just plain war–and this is the same as the Tennessee Volunteers used to do–go and defend your people and fight for what’s right.
    The article:
    Afghans sign up to fight Israeli troops in Gaza
    By Hamid Shalizi
    Thu Jan 8, 2009 2:34pm GMT
    KABUL (Reuters) – More than a thousand Afghans signed up on Thursday [in one city] to say they wanted to go and fight Israel in the Gaza Strip, many of them blaming the United States which has some 30,000 troops in Afghanistan, for supporting the Jewish state.
    Accusations by Taliban militants and some Muslim clerics that Israel and its main ally, the United States, aim to destroy Islam have a strong impact on public opinion in Afghanistan, where Washington plans to almost double its troop numbers this year.
    “The acts of Israel against the innocent Muslims of Gaza are barbaric and inhumane and widely helped by the Americans,” Assam said, adding that nearly 10,000 people across Afghanistan had so far volunteered to fight in Gaza.
    Scores of young men crowded into the library of Kabul’s Milad ul-Nabi mosque, lined with banners reading “Death to Israel” and “Death to America,” to sign up to fight Israel.
    “More than a thousand brave Afghans registered their names here to fight Israeli troops in Gaza,” said Habibullah Assam, the imam of the mosque and organizer of the campaign.


  13. Syed Qamar Afzal Rizvi says:

    The tragic fact is that in the post-positivism era of the US foreign policy(in the post Cold War period),the two ardent schools of the foreign policy,realist and idealist seem to have been overwhelmingly governed/ruled by the Israeli lobby in America,thereby harrowingly undermining the image of America in the world.
    The new challenge emerges for the reformists and the evolutionists: to give a befitting reponse to this negatively tuned or indoctrinated legacy.


  14. David Frum is a War Criminal says:

    You should have performed a citizen’s arrest.


  15. Paul Norheim says:

    When will we see a photo of Steve eating dinner with John Bolton
    (does he have a dog?).
    And perhaps Nina could take a picture showing POA having a
    meal with Tahoe, WigWag and Varanasi?


  16. Don Bacon says:

    Steve being sometimes open-minded on American imperialism would naturally be comfortable with a neocon whose most recent book (co-authored with Richard Perle) gained the following Amazon review: “David Frum and Richard Perle actually wrote a book that urges the United States to eliminate all of Israel’s enemies (Syria, Iran) and abandon support for a Palestinian State. The book reads like a hysterical satire of neoconservatism, their aggressive and fantastical war ideas so absurd and blatantly in the service of Israel that I quite literally convulsed with laughter.”
    Did Steve also literally convulse with laughter? Steve? Will you send me a note too?


  17. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Thanks for the note, Steve. I can assure you, living in Central California, many of my friends, clients, neighbors and acquaintances are hardly sympathetic to my political ideologies, frustrations, and hopes. But on a personal level, they are very much like me in their simple human desires. Security, health, education for their children, etc.. As I’m sure you realize, we can have many different opinions on how to achieve these things, yet still share basic wants or needs. Some of my fondest relationships are with people that do not share my political leanings.
    Besides, anyone that has a basset can’t be all that bad, even if his political leanings would seem to indicate the dog is quite likely more intelligent than its master.
    I had a basset once, and he was a real character. He would dissappear for five to seven days at a time, then scratch to get in, crawl inside in total exhaustion, and sleep and eat for two or three days before dissappearing again. This was in Coeur d’Alene, and he didn’t care if it was summer or twenty below zero. After a couple of years of this, he took up residence with a woman down the street that owned a female Dachsund that had had two litters of suspiciously odd looking mutts.
    There seemed to be no shortage of weird looking dogs in that neighborhood, and something tells me Sam the basset played no small part in that phenomena.
    I hope you enjoy your friendship with Frum. But I would be especially careful when he and his wife invite you over for dinner. You should be safe, though. Judging from events this last year or so, I believe the neo-cons only eat their own.


  18. The Hague says:

    Steve, what are you doing consorting with war criminals? Seriously.


  19. Linda says:

    It used to be in DC that people could disagree and not be disagreeable especially about politics and can agree about many other things. Richard Perle loves Provence and really knows and appreciates French cuisine and wine.
    Social gatherings can be rather boring when one only talks with people who think like one does. So I’m confused about why you even think of this as possibly tainting either of you.


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