Cultural Revolutions

Getting Rid of Rivals

William Bennett’s latest fundraising project is an organization he calls “Americans for Victory Over Terrorism,” a special project of his previous experiment in do-nothing think-tankery, Empower America.  Collecting a veritable rogue’s gallery of lobbyists and special-interest reps, the former Czar of Drugs, Education, and Culture says that he is modeling AVOT explicitly on such neoconservative Cold War groups as the Committee for a Free World.  Bennett promises the usual full schedule of paid advertisements in the New York Times, teach-ins, press conferences, etc.—anything to bring back the happy days of the Cold War, when you could eliminate a rival simply by calling him “unpatriotic” or “comsymp.”

Bennett’s first list of threats to America’s internal security is interesting: one goofball ex-president, Jimmy Carter; one goofball congressman, Maxine Waters; and Lewis Lapham, editor of Harper’s.  Why Lapham?  While Carter and Waters have been content, for the most part, to criticize the Bush administration’s saber-rattling, Mr. Lapham has committed lèse-majesté in mocking John Ashcroft as a “mullah” and ridiculing even the Czar himself.

The idea that Lewis Lapham is either a leftist or a peacenik, much less a threat to anyone’s security, is something only Bill...

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