Some of All Fears
By PAUL KRUGMAN
Back in 1971, Russell Baker, the legendary Times columnist, devoted one of his Op-Ed columns to an interview with Those Who — as in "Those Who snivel and sneer whenever something good is said about America." Back then, Those Who played a major role in politicians' speeches.
Times are different now, of course. There are those who say that Iraq is another Vietnam. But Iraq is a desert, not a jungle, so there. And we rarely hear about Those Who these days. But the Republic faces an even more insidious threat: the Some.
The Some take anti-American positions on a variety of issues. For example, they want to hurt the economy: "Some say, well, maybe the recession should have been deeper," said President Bush in 2003. "That bothers me when people say that."
Mainly, however, the Some are weak on national security. "There's Some in America who say, 'Well, this can't be true there are still people willing to attack,' " said Mr. Bush during a visit to the National Security Agency.
The Some appear to be an important faction within the Democratic Party — a faction that has come out in force since the killing of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. Last week the online edition of The Washington Times claimed that "Some Democrats" were calling Zarqawi's killing a "stunt."
Even some Democrats (not to be confused with Some Democrats) warn about the influence of the Some. "Some Democrats are allergic to the use of force. They still have a powerful influence on the party," said Michael O'Hanlon of the Brookings Institution after the 2004 election.
Joe Klein, the Time magazine columnist, went further, declaring that the Democratic Party's "left wing" has a "hate America tendency."
And when Senator Barack Obama told The New Yorker that Americans "don't believe that the main lesson of the past five years is that America is an evil hegemon," he seemed to be implying that influential members of his party believe just that.
But here's the strange thing: it's hard to figure out who those Some Democrats are.
For example, none of the Democrats quoted by The Washington Times actually called the killing of Zarqawi a stunt, or said anything to that effect. Mr. Klein's examples of people with a "hate America tendency" were "Michael Moore and many writers at The Nation." That's a grossly unfair characterization, but in any case, since when do a filmmaker who supported Ralph Nader and a magazine's opinion writers constitute a wing of the Democratic Party?
And which Democrats are "allergic to the use of force"? Some prominent Democrats opposed the Iraq war, but few if any of these figures oppose all military action. Howard Dean supported both the first gulf war and the invasion of Afghanistan. So did Al Gore. To all appearances, both men opposed the Iraq war only because they thought this particular use of force was ill advised and was being sold on false pretenses.
On the other hand, maybe appearances are deceiving. Shortly before the invasion of Iraq, The New Republic accused those who opposed the war — in particular, the editorial page of The New York Times — of hiding behind a "mask of nuanced criticism" when their real position was one of "abject pacifism."
But Peter Beinart, who was The New Republic's editor at the time, now seems to concede that the war's opponents were right. "Worst-case logic became a filter," he writes in his new book, "which prevented war supporters like myself from seeing the evidence mounting around us."
So what's going on here? Some might suggest that the alleged influence of the Some is no more real than the problem of flag-burning, that right-wing propagandists are attacking straw men to divert attention from the Bush administration's failures. And they wonder why people like Mr. Obama are helping these propagandists in their work.
Some might also suggest that Democrats who accuse other Democrats of closet pacifism are motivated in part by careerism — that they're trying to sustain the peculiar rule, which still prevails in Washington, that you have to have been wrong about Iraq to be considered credible on national security. And they're doing this by misrepresenting the views and motives of those who had the good sense and courage to oppose this war.
But that's just what Some Democrats might say. And everyone knows that Some Democrats hate America.