Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Breathtakingly Nuts

This post by tristero at Hullabaloo is not to be missed:
But Lemann neglects to include a crucial qualifier, indeed the most important point of his anecdote: No one competent at reality testing or possessing a nanogram of integrity has ever compared Bush favorably to Lincoln, not even in the days following 9/11. Problem was, hardly anyone competent at reality testing or with a nanogram of integrity could get remotely near the mainstream media in those days. Problem was, the media were overrun by the kind of clowns who actually would shamelessly compare Bush to Lincoln. Problem was, that kind of preposterous comparison was acceptable mainstream opinion.

The problems remain. To this day, those who got it wrong - perhaps even worse, those who gave the incompetent bullshit-slingers a free ride - retain their access to important media. Case in point: Nick Lemann. Yes, it's a small, tiny, trivial detail but Lemann could have easily inserted at the end of the last sentence "by people who really should have known better." He didn't and it probably never occurred to him to do so. In fact, serious reporters like Lemann regularly coddled those who ridiculously asserted Bush=Lincoln and failed to report the opinions of those who insisted upon remaining intellectually honest. Lemann's not Tom Friedman or Bill O'Reilly, he's not incredibly stupid and he's certainly not a malicious rightwinger. He's just, well... his mindset's typical.

I can never forget this astounding article he wrote on the odious Project for a New American Century on the eve of the catastrophe known as the Bush/Iraq war. In many ways, it was a terrific piece. Lemann introduced his readers to PNAC's longstanding plans to invade Iraq in order to remake the Middle East. But, after going into considerable detail about PNAC's notorious paper "A Clean Break" and David Wurmser's book, which speculated that a positive domino effect would sweep the Middle East if Saddam was toppled, Lemann wraps up with this:

'A few things should be said about this vision of the near-term future in the Middle East. It is breathtakingly ambitious and optimistic.'

Again, Lemann was absolutely right. A few things absolutely should have been said about PNAC's plan and Wurmser's book. Problem was, and is, that Lemann said the wrong few things.

PNAC"s plans weren't "breathtakingly ambitious." They were absolutely nuts. As in screaming yellow bonkers nuts. The notion that invading Iraq would lead to Iran abandoning its nuclear ambitions wasn't "optimistic." It was unhinged from any remotely conceivable future reality.

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