A Onetime Hate-Spewing, Red-baiting Neocon for Obama


This was first posted at DavidCorn.com at CQPolitics.com….

The latest neocon to turn tail on John McCain is Kenneth Adelman, a former foreign policy official in the Reagan administration. Adelman is most famous–or infamous–for having predicted in February 2002, 13 months before the invasion of Iraq, that “demolishing Hussein’s military power and liberating Iraq would be a cakewalk.” Explaining his decision to vote for Obama, Adelman recently told The New Yorker:

“When the economic crisis broke, I found John McCain bouncing all over the place. In those first few crisis days, he was impetuous, inconsistent, and imprudent; ending up just plain weird. Having worked with Ronald Reagan for seven years, and been with him in his critical three summits with Gorbachev, I’ve concluded that that’s no way a president can act under pressure.”

And he said of the Sarah Palin pick:

“That decision showed appalling lack of judgment. Not only is Sarah Palin not close to being acceptable in high office — I would not have hired her for even a mid-level post in the arms-control agency. But that selection contradicted McCain’s main two, and best two, themes for his campaign — Country First, and experience counts. Neither can he credibly claim, post-Palin pick.”

He sounds so reasonable, right? But I remember the days when Adelman sounded more like the mad McCainiacs I recently encountered at a McCain rally. In fact, I once wrote about Adelman’s use of extremist rhetoric, and that kept him from obtaining a spot on the board of a prominent Washington advocacy group.

From a Nation magazine column (not on-line) I penned in 1988:

The board of the National Endowment for Democracy recently considered the pending nomination of Kenneth Adelman, a protege of Jeane Kirkpatrick and head of the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency through many of the Reagan years. As the NED brass discussed Adelman’s nomination, submitted by NED president Carl Gershman, someone distributed a Nation article reporting on Adelman’s speech to a conservative conference last February [see Corn, “Fear and Loathing in Washington,” March 5]. Adelman had pandered to the approving claque at the Conservative Political Action Conference, suggesting that liberals are communists and describing House Speaker Jim Wright as a “traitor” for his work on the Central America peace plan. Those remarks didn’t go over well with the Democratic members of the bipartisan NED board, according to our sources in the organization. Adelman’s nomination, the sources say, was placed on hold, pending verification of the Nation story.

The slippery Gershman, himself a former aide to Kirkpatrick, listened to a tape-recording of Adelman’s speech and blithely assured the NED board there was nothing disturbing on it. “It looked like the Adelman nomination would go ahead,” according to a high-ranking NED source. But one Democratic board member took the precaution of personally reviewing the tape and came away outraged by Adelman’s comments. Other board members were notified and had similar reactions. The Adelman nomination now seems to be dead

Adelman never got that appointment.

Calling Democrats communists and traitors? Wouldn’t Adelman fit in with the crowds at a McCain-Palin event? But now he sees which way the wind is blowing, and he’s tacking toward the center and endorsing a secret Black Muslim socialist who pals around with terrorists. And who’s next to disavow McCain and back Obama? Paul Wolfowitz?

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  • David Corn

    David Corn is Mother Jones' Washington bureau chief and an on-air analyst for MSNBC. He is the co-author (with Michael Isikoff) of Russian Roulette: The Inside Story of Putin’s War on America and the Election of Donald Trump. He is the author of three New York Times bestsellers, Showdown, Hubris (with Isikoff), and The Lies of George W. Bush, as well as the e-book, 47 Percent: Uncovering the Romney Video that Rocked the 2012 Election. For more of his stories, click here. He's also on Twitter and Facebook.