I think Dan Drezner is on to something at the end of this post when he points to the recent appointments of Bob Blackwill and Jim Baker to different parts of the Iraq portfolio.
Let's call it 'creeping 41ism' -- the slow, but unmistakable trend for the new Iraq appointments to go to old-line Republican foreign policy types from dad's administration.
I made this point with respect to Baker at the neocon panel at Hudson on Monday. And Gary Schmitt responded, rather less than credibly, that Baker has, in fact, now become a neocon. (Who knew?) His evidence was Baker's recent trip to Georgia to warn Eduard Shevardnadze against rigging the Georgian election.
(This follows the new logic that holds that anyone who takes any action in support of non-rigged elections is by definition a neocon.)
In any case, no one believes that James Baker has become a neocon. I have good enough sources to know that that's not what the neocons are saying amongst themselves. And I very much doubt Schmitt himself thinks it's true.
I've had the pleasure and honor of attending a number of dinners and panels and conferences with Schmitt. And he's always struck me as someone willing to discuss the issues of the day candidly and on the merits. I think this was a case of the excitement of the moment perhaps getting the better of him -- sort of like the frenzy you see when a pack of wolves attacks a chicken coop. With, in this case, yours truly as the feathered one.
No complaints. I thought I held my own.
One other point.
In another post commenting on my tete-a-tete with Perle, Drezner writes "I'm not sure how much neoconservatives think or want Perle to be their exemplar. I've expressed my reservations about Perle in the past, so I might be biased here."
I think Drezner's got this right -- and this for another reason which may not be readily apparent. One sometimes sees Perle referred to in the media as the idea-man or the ideologist of contemporary neoconservatism. But that's not really his role, nor is it even how he's seen within that community.
Perle's sway in that community is vast. But he's not the thinker, the shaper of their ideas -- that's Wolfowitz, and a number of others, whose names are less well-known. His role is more analogous to that of a ward-boss, an organizer, a bureaucratic operator and rainmaker, the guy who lines people up with jobs and appointments -- and, of course, working the airwaves.