In a later book, America's Misadventures in the Middle East, Freeman noted that the day after he withdrew his acceptance of the job, the Washington Post published "an unsigned editorial calling me a 'crackpot' for imagining that there was an Israel Lobby and that it had opposed me."
It is in such a world of funhouse mirrors -- where reality is endlessly distorted -- that the neocons have amassed their extraordinary influence in Washington. They have long demonstrated a capacity to turn anything into anything, whether manufacturing a false reality about Iraq's WMD or delegitimizing loyal American public servants who somehow represent a threat to their power.
However, the neocons have gradually lost ground under President Obama, especially when compared to how they ruled the roost under President George W. Bush. In 2011, Gates finally was replaced at the Pentagon and Petraeus was moved from his high-profile role as a four-star military commander to the less public position of CIA director.
In 2012, with Obama suffering low approval ratings and congressional Republicans hounding him on the economy, the neocons saw their chance to reclaim control of U.S. foreign policy by helping Mitt Romney win the presidency. Up to Election Night, some were surely fantasizing about their new titles at the NSC or State or Defense or the CIA.
The neocons were as stunned as Karl Rove and other GOP operatives when their predictions of a Romney landslide evaporated as the actual votes of the American people were counted. Instead of cashing in their chits with President Romney, the neocons were facing four more years on the outside-looking-in under President Obama.
Then, just days after Obama's reelection, a second shoe dropped. One of the neocons' last senior allies in the U.S. government, CIA Director Petraeus, was forced to resign as a result of a humiliating sex scandal.
The stunned neocons suddenly looked out over a Washington where they no longer held key jobs and few possessed top-secret security clearances. They still held lucrative jobs at think tanks and had prominent space on op-ed pages but their direct control of U.S. foreign policy was ending.
Thus, the significance of the neocon counter-offensive against Chuck Hagel, a generally popular Republican who served with distinction as a soldier during the Vietnam War. To demonstrate their continued clout in Washington, the neocons must show they can still claim some important scalps and can still frighten President Obama into retreat.
But the risk the neocons run is that their bold march in pursuit of Sen. Hagel's scalp may turn out instead to be something of the Neocons' Last Stand.
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