The Atlantic's James Fallows, among the most reasonable and thoughtful people in Washington, responds to a crude article by Elliot Abrams that appeared on his magazine's website by writing a characteristically reasonable and thoughtful post explaining why Abrams' approach to criticizing the Obama administration is enormously unhelpful. Not only is the piece, as Fallows says, "deliberately vulgarizing an issue he knows is harder than he is letting on," the whole point of it is that Abrams is chastising the administration for its insufficient commitment to human rights.
Why is this notable? Because to hear this coming from Elliot Abrams is kind of like having Donald Trump give you a lecture on the evils of ostentation and conspicuous consumption. Abrams first gained notoriety as one of the architects of the Reagan administration's Latin America policies in the 1980s, in which one murderous, oppressive regime after another was propped up and lauded, so long as they opposed any hint of leftism among their populace. During that time, Abrams became our country's foremost apologist for human-rights abuses. The juntas and dictators of which Abrams was such a great friend killed and tortured thousands upon thousands of innocent people. Those villains are all gone now, thank goodness, but for some reason, Elliot Abrams is still around.
And that's my question: Why? Abrams was among the lawbreakers whose wrongdoing was exposed during the Iran-Contra scandal, and in a deal with the independent counsel, he pled guilty to a misdemeanor charge of lying to Congress, thereby avoiding a trial and possible prison time. You might think that after that, no one would have anything to do with him, and he'd slink away. But no. He got another high-ranking job in George W. Bush's administration (to barely any objection from official Washington that I can recall), and is now comfortably ensconced at the Council on Foreign Relations.
If you can think of a Democrat who rebounded like that -- an admitted criminal, part of the biggest government scandal of the decade, who then goes on to a post in another administration and then to an elite "centrist" think tank, and gets his profound thoughts published in places like The Atlantic -- I'd love to know who it is.
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