Dan Drezner is on something of a jeremiad against what he calls “Thucydides Abuse.” His latest post on the subject is worth reading, but I am noting it because it references this post from March, 2007, in which Thomas Geoghegan writes that Thucydides is “an honorary neocon.”
Seriously. This got written. I don’t know how I missed this; I can’t recall reading Drezner’s post on this issue, but perhaps I actually did read it, and blacked out after finding out that someone actually believes–and got paid to write in a respected American political magazine–that Thucydides was some kind of neoconservative. I mean, wow.
What is especially amazing concerning this issue is that Geoghegan, who is a darling of the Left–he is a celebrated labor lawyer in Chicago, and actually ran in 2009 for the U.S. House seat for the Fifth District in Illinois, after Rahm Emanuel vacated it to become President Obama’s Chief of Staff–is considered something of a man of letters. As his Wikipedia entry notes, Geoghegan has written six books, and he gets love from the likes of James Fallows for “masterful and original pieces of thinking and writing, which most writers would be content with as their entire contribution to the human endeavor during the period Tom has turned them out.” Also, he supposedly “writes like a dream,” according to Kathy G, and is considered “America’s most talented writer and thinker on labor issues,” according to David Sirota. And yet, this supposed exemplar of erudition makes an unbelievable historical boo-boo in calling Thucydides “an honorary neocon,” one that would get any college or grad student tossed from a class with peals of laughter following him as he/she shuffles out in shame.
Of course, in making his “argument,” Geoghegan probably did not care one whit about being faithful to history. He just cared about making a point against “neocons,” and if that meant trying to lump Thucydides in with Paul Wolfowitz, then so be it. Yet another reason to eliminate the word “neoconservative” from our political lexicon; whatever descriptive power it may have had in the past, it is now used to simply mean “conservatives that the user of the word ‘neoconservative’ doesn’t like.”