Rich Lowry, the National Review editor most famous for seeing starbursts when Sarah Palin winked at him through the TV during the 2008 vice presidential debate, has a column at Politico objecting to the possible naming of Chuck Hagel as Secretary of Defense. And he doesn’t seem to have any clue what the word “mainstream” means.
Former Nebraska Sen. Chuck Hagel is reportedly under serious consideration to replace Leon Panetta as secretary of defense. A self-styled foreign policy realist, Hagel is out of the mainstream and terminally naive…
It would be one thing if Hagel were merely what he so often seemed when he was a regular on the Sunday talk shows — a tiresome purveyor of conventional wisdom overly impressed with his own seriousness. That would make him no different than about 90 other senators. It’s that his realism is so profoundly unrealistic and bizarrely skewed.
At the core of his foreign policy is disdain for Israel and unquenchable desire to talk to terrorists. This isn’t the realism of a Henry Kissinger, informed by a deep historical knowledge, or a James Baker, characterized by a tough-minded competence. It’s a pastiche of attitudes fashionable at Council on Foreign Relations meetings or the World Economic Forum in Davos, crystalized into an idée fixe lacking all nuance or true thoughtfulness.
He may well be a “tiresome purveyor of conventional wisdom” whose ideas are “fashionable at Council on Foreign Relations meetings” — but if he is those things, he is, by definition, in the mainstream of foreign policy opinion. If the opinions of the CFR are not “mainstream” when we might as well retire that word from the language entirely. I suspect a lot of this is projection; it is Lowrey himself who is a tiresome purveyor of conservative conventional wisdom.