Well, color me skeptical. Granted, the foremost critics of Freeman’s appointment who supposedly comprise this non-lobbying “Lobby” – Jeffrey Goldberg, Gabriel Schoenfeld, Jon Chait, etc. – are all good writers. But since when is good writing sufficient for bringing down a popular administration’s political appointee – especially an appointee who didn’t need to pass a Senate confirmation hearing? Indeed, when it comes to the sudden withdrawal of political appointees, the supposed issue is almost never the issue, which is why I suspect that there’s a good deal more to Freeman’s fall from grace than a few eloquent Jews.
But let’s go along with Freeman’s shoplifted conspiracy theory for a moment. Let’s assume that someone close to President Obama viewed the convergence of certain pro-Israel opinion-makers against the Freeman pick as a threat to the administration’s political viability (remember: in the “Israel Lobby” world, mere criticism from Israel’s supporters has politically fatal consequences for the criticized). Here’s the real question: where was the anti-Israel “lobby” in defending Freeman against these brutish writers?
Answer: rather than addressing any of the substantive criticisms regarding Freeman, the anti-Israel “lobby” drowned itself in its anti-“neo-con” fervor, simplistically arguing that Freeman’s pro-Israel critics were wrong by virtue of their existence. Go back and read the infantile rantings of Stephen Walt, MJ Rosenberg, Robert Dreyfuss and Juan Cole – each one offers nothing more than a laundry list of Jewish last names, as if this proves both the reality of the “Israel lobby” and its inherent wrongness. In turn, Freeman’s lazy backers declined to tell us why his proximity to the Saudi monarchy wasn’t such a bad thing; or explain how Freeman’s view of the Tiananmen Square protests emerges from his realist outlook, and not from his Beijing business interests; or argue that Freeman’s controversial comments were taken out of context.
Indeed, the anti-Israel “lobby” completely failed to make its case in support of Freeman. They entered this supposedly all-decisive blog war with a huge advantage – Freeman, after all, had already been selected to chair the NIC and needed no further approval – and failed miserably. If they insist on blaming some amorphous “lobby,” they should start by reexamining their own.