Richard Perle: Rebranding Himself, The Neocons And Other Con Jobs

Uber-neoconman Richard Perle yesterday in DC:

In real life, Perle was the ideological architect of the Iraq war and of the Bush doctrine of preemptive attack. But at yesterday’s forum of foreign policy intellectuals, he created a fantastic world in which: 

1. Perle is not a neoconservative.

2. Neoconservatives do not exist.

3. Even if neoconservatives did exist, they certainly couldn’t be blamed for the disasters of the past eight years.

"There is no such thing as a neoconservative foreign policy," Perle informed the gathering, hosted by National Interest magazine. "It is a left critique of what is believed by the commentator to be a right-wing policy."

It gets more ludicrous. Read Dana Milbank’s whole piece.

Now, let’s take a peek at Richard Perle, just yesterday, giving an interview to the editor of The National Interest magazine (YouTube — sound quality is iffy, it’s not you). In the interview, Perle says that the Bush administration was incompetent, their foreign policy was crap, "Bush, himself, was not terribly articulate," and then he’s asked about his approach to current "neocon thinking:"

"I don’t believe there is such a thing as a neocon attitude on questions of foreign and defense policies. In that, neoconservatism arose in the context…largely in the context of domestic policies. It was a reaction against the belief in the effectiveness of large government. Which people like Irving Kristol and Norman Podhoretz and others began to adapt and doubt seriously. I can’t identify a distinctively neconservative foreign policy. Most of the people I know who have worked in the foreign policy and defense policy arena in government would describe themselves as pragmatists. 

Now, ironically, the charge that people like Paul Wolfowitz, Doug Feith and me are ideologues comes from people who are often ideologues themselves: who have a blind faith in multilateral institutions, who believe in the efficacy of international law and international institutions like the United Nations which has proven itself incapable of serious action when required, with the rare exception. So I simply don’t accept the concept of a neoconservative foreign policy. I do understand the concept of a sort of false realist critique of what is said to be neoconservative thinking, and that critique seems to be riddled with ideological positions.

Get that? Perle is not a neoconservative because he says so, and anyone who says otherwise is simply too ideological to understand that he no longer cops to the label he gave himself by helping the neocon foreign policy agenda along at every turn from his in-and-out perch at AEI and the Defense Policy Board.  

And that his fellow neocons identify with his policy recommendations?  Irrelevent.

Nope, no neocons here, and you can’t make him say so.  And just because Irving Kristol in the Weekly Standard says that there is a neoconservative foreign policy, that doesn’t mean there is one, okay? Except here’s Richard Perle in 2002 on PBS’ Think Tank:

Ben Wattenberg: Irving Kristol said a neoconservative is a liberal who’s been mugged by reality.

Richard Perle: Right. And I think that’s a fair description, and I suppose all of us were liberal at one time. I was liberal in high school and a little bit into college. But reality and rigor are important tonics, and if you got into the world of international affairs and you looked with some rigor at what was going on in the world, it was really hard to be liberal and naïve.

Perle himself applies Kristol’s neocon description to foreign policy.  Ooops.  Or this from Perle in 2003:

…"Is the Neoconservative Moment Over?" Perle’s answer: Not even close. 

"Not only is the neoconservative movement not over, it’s just beginning," he said. "Also not over is the left’s obsession with neoconservatism…."

Pay no attention to that self-proclaimed neoconservative behind the curtain.  

The neoconservative attempt at "re-branding has been going on for a while, just ask David Brooks and friends, but coming from Perle it is quite simply laughable.  As principle author of "A Clean Break," Perle’s neocon credentials have been repeatedly carved in weapons contracts and influence peddling at the highest reaches of government.  With a little personal enrichment sidecar, just for shits and giggles.

More Richard Perle moments?  This 2002 interview with Charlie Rose (YouTube), where he pushes folks like Curveball and Ahmed Chalabi as awesome sources of intel on Iraq and all those nonexistent stockpiles of chem/bio/nuke weapons in Iraq.   And this double whammy interview with Perle and Fred Kagan. (YouTube)  Or this interview with Perle on Al Jazeera. (YouTube)  

If you can get through those, you can survive anything.

I’d laugh about this, but the media still treats Perle as a legitimate, serious source of foreign policy and defense information instead of a lying con man.  Someone explain to me why on earth that is? 

UPDATE:  Obsidian Wings has more. 

21 Responses to "Richard Perle: Rebranding Himself, The Neocons And Other Con Jobs"
WVAPA | Friday February 20, 2009 08:22 am 1

And what about that Project for a New American Century and urging Bill Clinton to invade Iraq in order to shake things up and make democracy bloom in the Middle East for the sake of providing security for Israel? Did somebody forge Richard Perle’s name to those documents? He’s just a poor misunderstood patriot cum war profiteer with a huge winecellar in Provence.

perris | Friday February 20, 2009 08:31 am 2

I’d laugh about this, but the media still treats Perle as a legitimate, serious source of foreign policy and defense information instead of a lying con man. Someone explain to me why on earth that is?

*raises his hand*

it’s because he was wrong of course

everyone wrong is treated with reverance, everyone right is treated with contempt

krysto’s wrongness earned him a spot in the ultra liberal “new york times”

wrong is good

Christy Hardin Smith | Friday February 20, 2009 08:35 am 3
In response to perris @ 2

Yes, but the man is such a turn-off when he speaks — you’d think he’d be like ratings kryptonite, wouldn’t you?

Christy Hardin Smith | Friday February 20, 2009 08:53 am 4
In response to WVAPA @ 1

And then fairies ate his pants.

TRexstasy | Friday February 20, 2009 09:27 am 5
In response to Christy Hardin Smith @ 4

Hey! That’s my line!

Christy Hardin Smith | Friday February 20, 2009 09:30 am 6
In response to TRexstasy @ 5

Well, honestly, if ever a line applied to the ludicrosity of Richard Perle, it is that one. *g*

Christy Hardin Smith | Friday February 20, 2009 09:30 am 7
In response to TRexstasy @ 5

btw, how are you this morning? Done with your ironing yet? *G*

Christy Hardin Smith | Friday February 20, 2009 09:34 am 8
In response to Christy Hardin Smith @ 7

(Inside joke, folks, sorry — TRex calls me when he’s ironing sometimes. *G*)

foothillsmike | Friday February 20, 2009 09:43 am 9

Must be nice to be master of the language.

Christy Hardin Smith | Friday February 20, 2009 10:02 am 10
In response to foothillsmike @ 9

It’s certainly nice for Perle that he gets to try and rewrite his own history. But for all those pesky interviews, op-eds, documents and policy initiatives, he might be able to slip into fantasyland without anyone noticing. Oooopsie…

AZ Matt | Friday February 20, 2009 10:16 am 11

Well, usually that isn’t a problem, the MSM isn’t going to dig very deep if at all. Only pesky, intelligent bloggers such as yourself make that effort.

klynn | Friday February 20, 2009 10:25 am 12


That’s a typical GOP slap. Riiiiiiiiight, I get it! So, conservative equals mature.

Show me.

Rayne | Friday February 20, 2009 10:27 am 13
In response to klynn @ 12


Mature, like an overripe melon or a day-old fish in the noonday sun.

klynn | Friday February 20, 2009 10:30 am 14
In response to Rayne @ 13



Now I “get” it.

Rayne | Friday February 20, 2009 10:33 am 15
In response to klynn @ 14

There you go. It’s like the other euphemisms one learns when selling mens’ suits.

Portly is my favorite.

Used in sentence, “Richard Perle appears to wear not an athletic cut but a portly cut — in head gear.”

Christy Hardin Smith | Friday February 20, 2009 10:35 am 16
In response to Rayne @ 15

Why, Rayne, I do believe you may be trying to call Perle a fathead. Good call. *g*

Rayne | Friday February 20, 2009 10:45 am 17

No need for a measuring tape there, eh?

Always amazes me how this portly hatted dork was able to single-handedly bollux our efforts in North Korea. Why would anybody take him seriously?

He ranted about not negotiating with NK because “we don’t negotiate with blackmailers.

And yet Perle and the rest of his band-of-artists-formerly-known-as-neoconservatives blackmailed us all into believing we had to pay $1 trillion for a war against a nebulous threat in Iraq.

AZ Matt | Friday February 20, 2009 10:46 am 18

I don’t think she was trying, I think she did!!

Neil | Friday February 20, 2009 05:38 pm 19

Thanks for calling out this warmonger ass-hat on his two-faced bullshit. He’s got nowhere to go. He’ll be doing this until people buy it.

druidity36 | Saturday February 21, 2009 04:53 am 20
In response to klynn @ 12

is that a misspelling?

I always though conservative = manure…

Hugh | Saturday February 21, 2009 09:45 am 21

One of the prime rules of the con man is never to admit the con even when confronted by incontrovertible evidence, the sheriff , and angry townspeople. Perle is just running true to form.

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