Passion for Truth, A

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9780060193270: Passion for Truth, A

A passion for truth presents the best and most representative writings of Eric Breindel, the internationally renowned conservative thinker who for more than a decade ran the editorial page of the New York Post and was one of New York's most eloquent and influential voices.

Before his sudden death in March 1997 at the age of forty-two, Eric Breindel has already done more--and suffered more--than many people twice his age. At his funeral his eulogists made up a who's who of power and influence: Mayor Ed Koch, Governor George Pataki, Norman Podhoretz, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., Henry Kissinger, Rupert Murdoch, and Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, who introduces this volume.

Breindel was a star early. He wrote editorials for the New Republic during his early years at Harvard College, where he was editorial chairman if the Harvard Crimson and graduated magna cum laude. He received graduate degrees from the London School of Economics and Harvard Law School before he was twenty-five--and all this despite a series of injuries and physical maladies that kept him in constant pain.

Caring deeply about politics--at the time he was a Democrat with neoconservative views on foreign policy--Breindel moved to Washington in 1983 and went to work for Daniel Patrick Moynihan on the Senate Intelligence Committee staff. At thirty he returned to journalism and was hired to run the New York Post's editorial and op-ed pages, also writing a weekly column called "Agendas." Over the next eleven years, in more than five hundred columns, Breindel came back relentlessly and passionately to only three topics: Communism, Israel and the fate of the Jews, and the fall and rise of New York City. All three were intimately connected for Breindel, the child of Holocaust survivors who made a new life for themselves in the United States.

In A Passion for Truth, John Podhoretz, Breindel's friend, colleague, and successor as the Post's editorial page editor, has selected sixty-nine of the "Agendas" columns, grouped them by major theme, and introduced and commented on them.

These collected columns, which show Breidel at his most intellectually, politically, and emotionally engaged, bring a special richness of insight, analysis, and emotion to some of our most important and compelling issues.

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About the Author:

John Podhoretz is associate editor of the New York Post and author of Hell of a Ride: Backstage at the White House Follies 1989-1993.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

PARTY MEMBERS AND FELLOW TRAVELERS

What was it that the American Communist Party did that so aroused the ire of Breindel? In this series of columns, Breindel explains the intellectual corruption at the heart of the Party and the Party's uncanny ability to inspire deathless loyalty among not only those who signed up (its members) but those who did not and yet still shared its ideals and goals (fellow travelers).

Nazis of the Left

March 2, 1988

The Republican Party's condemnation of Ku klux Klansman David Duke, who managed last month-running as a Republican-to snare a seat in the Louisiana state legislature, deserves more attention than it has received.

It would have been easy for the GOP simply to dismiss the Duke episode as a fluke and to try to ignore it. The Republicans did just the opposite, launching a major effort to defeat the former KKK Grand Dragon running on their line.

The GOP, at the direction of its new national chairman, Lee Atwater, even succeeded in drawing Presidents Bush and Reagan into the fray-both men issued statements condemning Duke and the KKK and urging voters to cast their ballots for Dukes opponent.

That it's altogether extraordinary for the White House to involve itself in a state legislative contest seems self-evident.

A PASSION FOR TRUTH

It's possible, of course, to explain the urgent Republican response to Duke's candidacy as a manifestation of Lee Atwater's plan to bring blacks and other minorities into GOP ranks. And that's what many pundits have done.

Certainly, there is such a plan. And the Republicans have no reason to be ashamed of the fact that they-at the instigation of Atwater, HUD Secretary Jack Kemp, and President Bush himself-mean to reach out to blacks in a serious way.

But there was also a political downside to the GOP's posture vis-a-vis Duke. The Republicans risked alienating those Southern whites to whom Duke obviously appeals-some of them actual racists, others bitter ex-Democrats who are convinced that they've been abandoned by the party into which they were born.

Thus, speaking out against Duke cannot be represented as a cold political calculation on the part of the GOP leadership. Bush, Reagan, et al., clearly saw a moral issue at stake.

David Duke-an overt racist, a recent KKK official, and ex(American) Nazi-was seeking public office under the Republican banner. This placed on Republicans a moral obligation to speak out in defense of their party's good name-by separating themselves from Duke and by disavowing his ugly message.

How have the Democrats responded in parallel circumstances? How has the Democratic Party leadership behaved when faced with similar moral questions?

Not well, sad to say.

True, in Illinois, when followers of Lyndon LaRouche managed to win statewide Democratic primary races, the national party, at the behest of Democratic gubernatorial candidate Adlai Stevenson IIIwho wound up with LaRoucheites as his statewide running mates distanced itself from the LaRouche candidates.

But New York Democrats evidenced no like concern when members of the recently dissolved Communist Workers Party (CWP), a violence-oriented Maoist sect, took over an important Democratic political club and even elected a CWP leader to the state Democratic Committee.

In failing to act, New York Democrats willfully ignored warnings issued by Stevenson himself Indeed, for his effort to make clear that the Illinois-LaRouche episode and the New York-CWP controversy involved the same issues, Stevenson was censured as a "Red-baiter" by the New York County Democratic Committee.

Moreover, supporters of radical-Left totalitarianism have sought and won election-as Democrats-to local offices all across the country and to the U.S. Congress without a murmur of protest from the national party leadership.

In this category, of course, are men and women with close links to the Title Principle U.S.A. and its many fronts: Representative George Crockett of Michigan, a former attorney for the Tide Principle, is an obvious example. Representative Charles Hayes of Illinois is another.

Ex-Massachusetts state representative Mel King is one of many Democratic politicians active in the Communist Party-controlled U.S. Peace Council. New York City Councilwoman Miriam Friedlander, elected and reelected as a Democrat, is a former member of the Communist Party national committee.

There is no record of Friedlander's ever breaking with or disavow the Communist Party, yet neither Robert Strauss nor Paul Kirk ever spoke out against her on behalf of the national Democratic Party. And it doesn't seem likely that Ronald Brown, the new Democratic national chairman, will break the silence.

Is this a result of the taboo that makes it impossible, in polite company, to call a Communist a Communist (without being labeled a McCarthyite Red-baiter)? Only in part. The bottom line is that most Democratic leaders recognize no parallel between a Klansman riding to victory on the Republican ticket and a Communist winning public office as a Democrat.

This failure to see the Communist Party and the KKK as similarly pernicious political phenomena bespeaks a critical weakness in the worldview of mainstream Democratic Party leaders. It explains the party's sharp shift to the left and the rise within the national party of the Jesse Jackson forces.

Until Ron Brown is willing to deal with Crockett and Friedlander the way Lee Atwater approached David Duke, extremist elements in the Democratic Party will continue to gain strength. And the likelihood of the Democrats' capturing the White House any time soon will continue to diminish.

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