MONDAY, MARCH 31, 2003
MORE DECLINE OF THE POST: How bad is the Washington Post op-ed page? This morning, William Raspberry embarrasses the page once again with his latest slumbering column.
Should debate about the war continue now that the war has actually begun? Raspberry is inclined to say that it shouldnt, he says. But what are we supposed to do, he asks, when we suspect that our desire for national solidarity is being exploited in quite cynical fashion? The scribe continues: What if we believe we are being manipulated into supporting positions we dont believe inpositions we believe will be harmful to our long-term national interests?
For the record, those questions would seem to answer themselves (see below). At any rate, Raspberry then makes his key points:
RASPBERRY: Maybe I read too much. Ive just been looking at articles by Seymour Hersh in the March 17 issue of the New Yorker and by Joshua Micah Marshall in the April issue of Washington Monthly and feeling more than slightly used. Hershs piece, on the personal financial implications of Richard Perles involvement as an adviser on defense policy, is disturbing enough, though it stops short of accusing Perle of anything worse than having a tin ear for the appearance of conflict of interest.Wed be amazed at Raspberrys self-admiring slothif we hadnt seen it so often in the past. The scribe has just been looking at Hershs piecea piece which hit the newsstands on March 10, three full weeks ago. And as Raspberry sums up Marshals piece, he considers some fundamental pointspoints which have been wholly ignored by good guy pundits for an inordinately long time:
RASPBERRY (continuing directly): In [the hawks] view, [Marshal] writes, invasion of Iraq was not merely, or even primarily, about getting rid of Saddam Hussein. Nor was it really about weapons of mass destruction, though their elimination [would be] an important benefit. Rather, the administration sees the invasion as only the first move in a wider effort to reorder the power structure of the entire Middle East.Duh. It has been clear for a very long time that there is a powerful group within the Admin which may see the invasion as only the first move in a wider effort to reorder the entire Middle East. Whatever one thinks of those policy views, they should have been examined, in great detail, long before this point. But Raspberrypraising himself for reading too muchis just now wondering whats up with this crew. He also says that hes reading too much when he thumbs Hershs three-week-old piece.
What do Admin insiders intend? Pundits have shown little interest in knowing. Nor have news divisions at papers like the Post dared to explore the larger aims which may lay behind our war policy. As David Broder did when Gore gave his speech (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 3/26/03), our major press organs have slumbered and snored as weve drifted into defining war. But what does the Bush Admin really intend? Many months after he should have asked, Raspberry praises himself for reading too much as he belatedly wonders.
HOW COWED: By the way, try to believe that an American pundit had to ask these questions:
RASPBERRY: But what are we supposed to dowhat are we supposed to thinkwhen we suspect that our desire for national solidarity is being exploited in quite cynical fashion?Amazing, isnt it? Incredibly, Raspberry wonders what he should do if he thinks his country is adopting positions that are harmful to its long-term interests. How cowed are the poobahs on the Post op-ed page? With conservatives trying to stifle dissent (see below), a major pundit has to persuade himself to speak up in that troubling circumstance! But all over talk radio, all over Foxand all over insider cocktail partiesconservatives are trying to send the message that those who ask questions are anti-American. Raspberryasking basic questions quite latehas to persuade himself that he has a right to perform this fundamental duty. But so it goes as the cavemen attack (see below) and as the timid fall back, deeply cowed.
The Daily update
KILLING THE PIG: On Fox, asking obvious questions about the war is totally inappropriate (Brit Hume), close to disgraceful (William Kristol), and idiotic, stupid and moronic (Tony Snow). Meanwhile, American liberalism and the Democratic Party are riddled with people who comprise an anti-American left, who take a certain relish in the fact when something goes badly in the war and who hate the Bush administration more than they love America. Heres a taste of the rancid discussion on yesterdays Fox News Sunday:
MARA LIASSON: I dont see the anti-American left, whatever it is, as being some kind of a preponderant part of the Democratic Party. Look at the guys who are running for president in the Democratic Party. Only Howard Dean, who you would hardly put in the top tier there, is against the war.Sorry, Brityou just did. And this tone now animates American talk radio and much of the commentary coming from Americas pseudo-right pundits.
How stupid does the assault on discourse get? Here was part of Snows closing comment about the idiotic war coverage:
SNOW: Our planners probably did underestimate the understandable skepticism of Iraqi citizens, who rose up in revolt a dozen years ago, at our urging, only to have allies abandon them in their time of need.Journalists shouldnt state their views, Snow proclaims. They should only state the facts, he says. And Snow, of course, is stating his views as he makes these extremely strange proclamations.
By the way, how idiotic was the coverage about which the Fox Three declaimed? Not idiotic at all. Believe it or not, here are the two questions/comments from the press which produced the Fox Threes complaints. The comments were made to Ari Fleischer on Friday. They were played on tape at the start of Sundays roundtable chat:
TERRY MORAN: It just seems like youre unwilling, as a matter of policy, to acknowledge that the president and the political leadership of this government might have miscalculatednot in any fatal or even dangerous waybut might have miscalculated the response of the Iraqi army.Believe it or not, Fox now devotes entire segments to demonizing scribes for such obvious comments. But rememberSaddamism lives in the heart of us all. At times of war, ancient messages beam from the brain, instructing us to stifle dissent (and to stifle everything that feels like dissent). At Fox, the cavemen are busy now killing the pig. And how effective is this Saddam-like behavior? Over at the Post, William Raspberry has to ask himself thisif my country is making a major mistake, should I even say so?