Over the last few weeks, an intense debate has developed in (mainly) punditocracy and blogosphere circles over the Obama administration’s choice of Chas Freeman as head of the NIC. This pick was atrocious for a number of reasons discussed here. Unsurprisingly, it was reported last week that the vetting process did not happen on Chas Freeman until after he had been offered and accepted the position and after it was announced publicly by Dennis C. Blair, the director of national intelligence. Blair had – according to his spokeswoman – not notified the Obama administration before he made the announcement of the selection of Freeman, which implies that the Obama administration would have had him more thoroughly vetted had they known of his selection – and we know how thorough the “vetting” process is for Obama admin picks, right?
But I digress.
The issue of Chas Freeman has become so contentious that it has seen staunch conservatives like myself agreeing, in part, with staunch liberals like Jon Chait and Marty Peretz in terms of their disappointment with the Obama administration over this decision. But, as expected, inevitably there would be diehard Obama supporters like Andrew Sullivan and Josh Marshall who would link to every piece they could in defense of Chas Freeman supposedly being a victim of some sort of “vast neocon conspiracy” (who knew that liberals like Chait and Peretz were “neocons”?) while passionately writing that Freeman was/is a “realist” and “free thinker” – the kind we “really need” as the head of the NIC. Oh really?
Not so fast, writes Martin Kramer in two separate pieces (here and here) about Freeman’s alleged “realism” that you should consider must-reads. It puts an exclamation point on all you’ve read about Freeman so far from those who oppose his selection. There are some liberals who would travel to the ends of the Earth to defend the Obama administration, but fortunately more than just a couple oppose Freeman and aren’t going to stay silent about it (like that mega-neocon Senator Chuck Schumer).
As a sidenote, I found this paragraph from Sullivan’s defense to be quite amusing:
I repeat: if there are serious financial conflicts of interest, Freeman should withdraw. I also find some of Freeman’s realist statements, even as contrarian, a little too brutal for my taste. But I also believe that someone whose views push the envelope against recent US policy in the Middle East is an important asset for the United States right now. And I find the hysterical bullying of this man to be repulsive.
Right. Reasonable questioning by liberals and conservatives as to whether or not the man the Obama admin has picked to serve in one of the most critical intelligence positions in America is “bullying.” But being creepily obsessive about whether or not Trig Palin was/is “really” Sarah Palin’s son or Bristol Palin’s, and hypocritically bullying John McCain over a POW story he’s told about a cross in the sand a million times over is apparently a-ok to Sully.
Related: Senate Republicans are starting to line up to criticize the selection of Freeman.