I'm in no mood today to take bullshit from people, whether they're the President, dipshit pundits, or lying pundits. First, the liar, sydicated columnist George Will. First, the background, which appeared in The Hill:
President Bush has pledged to work with the new Democratic majorities in Congress, but he has already gotten off on the wrong foot with Jim Webb, whose surprise victory over Sen. George Allen (R-Va.) tipped the Senate to the Democrats.
Webb, a decorated former Marine officer, hammered Allen and Bush over the unpopular war in Iraq while wearing his son’s old combat boots on the campaign trail. It seems the president may have some lingering resentment.
At a private reception held at the White House with newly elected lawmakers shortly after the election, Bush asked Webb how his son, a Marine lance corporal serving in Iraq, was doing.
Webb responded that he really wanted to see his son brought back home, said a person who heard about the exchange from Webb.
“I didn’t ask you that, I asked how he’s doing,” Bush retorted, according to the source.
Webb confessed that he was so angered by this that he was tempted to slug the commander-in-chief, reported the source, but of course didn’t. It’s safe to say, however, that Bush and Webb won’t be taking any overseas trips
together anytime soon.
“Jim did have a conversation with Bush at that dinner,” said Webb’s spokeswoman Kristian Denny Todd. “Basically, he asked about Jim’s son, Jim expressed the fact that he wanted to have him home.” Todd did not want to escalate matters by commenting on Bush’s response, saying, “It was a private conversation.”
A White House spokeswoman declined to give Bush’s version of the conversation.
The Washington Post then covered the exchange
. Here's Will's column
That was certainly swift. Washington has a way of quickly acculturating people, especially those who are most susceptible to derangement by the derivative dignity of office. But Jim Webb, Democratic senator-elect from Virginia, has become a pompous poseur and an abuser of the English language before actually becoming a senator.
Wednesday's Post reported that at a White House reception for newly elected members of Congress, Webb "tried to avoid President Bush," refusing to pass through the reception line or have his picture taken with the president.
When Bush asked Webb, whose son is a Marine in Iraq, "How's your boy?" Webb replied, "I'd like to get them [sic] out of Iraq." When the president again asked "How's your boy?" Webb replied, "That's between me and my boy." Webb told The Post:
"I'm not particularly interested in having a picture of me and George W. Bush on my wall. No offense to the institution of the presidency, and I'm certainly looking forward to working with him and his administration. [But]
leaders do some symbolic things to try to convey who they are and what the message is."
Webb certainly has conveyed what he is: a boor. Never mind the patent disrespect for the presidency. Webb's more gross offense was calculated rudeness toward another human being -- one who, disregarding many hard things Webb had said about him during the campaign, asked a civil and caring question, as one parent to another. When -- if ever -- Webb grows weary of admiring his new grandeur as a "leader" who carefully calibrates the "symbolic things" he does to convey messages, he might consider this: In a republic, people decline to be led by leaders who are insufferably full of themselves.
As Greg Sargent at TPM Cafe
points out, Will deliberately
altered the conversation between Bush and Webb in order to portray Webb as a "boor." Nevermind that the President was first "uncivil," Will has a story to tell: this new group of Dems are going to disrupt the tradition of civility in DC, which I and my other civil journalists are honor-bound to protect. Nevermind that his story is false and nevermind that his job as a journalist is to cover real
stories. I've long found Will to be a pompous insider. He carries himself like William F. Buckley Jr. but has none of the integrity (yes, that was rare praise for a conservative). I'm so glad that the Washington Post chooses to employ such honest men to tell us about how everyone is out to get poor Bush.
George Will, fuck you.
And now our idiot pundit, the redoubtable Tom Friedman. Friedman, if you'll recall, has a vision for the world. Its one where everyone does business at the speed of light, gets rich, and acknowledges no cultural differences. The
world is flat, you see. Friedman also has rare and wise insight into the Middle East, having covered it for the NYTimes for most of his professional life. He now is a syndicated columnist and best-selling author. Friedman also supported the invasion of Iraq because he believed that democracy is as easy as removing dictators and freeing markets--no matter where in the world you are. Poor Friedman has been dismayed by all the awful violence in Iraq lately. He's been saying for some time that we will turn a corner any day now, that the crucial time is always, always, six months away. Now Friedman has a new idea: reinvade Iraq:
Given this, we need to face our real choices in Iraq, which are: 10 months or 10 years. Either we just get out of Iraq in a phased withdrawal over 10 months, and try to stabilize it some other way, or we accept the
fact that the only way it will not be a failed state is if we start over and rebuild it from the ground up, which would take 10 years. This would require reinvading Iraq, with at least 150,000 more troops, crushing the Sunni and Shiite militias, controlling borders, and building Iraq’s institutions and political culture from scratch. (unfree NY Times copy ripped off from Uggabugga)
Man, this is fucking sage
advice! Of course! Just reinvade! Send another 100,00 troops to Iraq! No problem! By comparison, Chait's
(it's hard to tell if he's being facetious) suggestion that we reinstall Saddam Hussein sounds even wiser.
Ok. Am I being too harsh, picking on these people? Don't columnists make mistakes? Of course they do. What I deplore is when columnists are repeatedly wrong, don't acknowledge any error, and then whine when things don't go their way. I hate that. Good columnists have insight, or offer style to their readers (I like satire myself). Will and Friedman have neither. Will wants to bitch that Washington DC has changed as a result of Democrats winning control. Need a hanky George? It sounds like a hissy fit is coming on. And Friedman, well, I've long wondered what people see in him. I don't get it. The man is not a genius. His ideas about the future of globalization are ridiculous. I really don't know what else to say. And the fact that he is now visably irritated that his fantasies aren't coming true
only serves to underline my point that his ideas were just fantasies and that no one should have been paying attention to him in the first place.
I've saved the best for last. Over at The Corner, one of their resident hacks writes
I think Ralph Peters hits the nail on the head today. According to Peters, we now have to choose between two missions in Iraq: a futile attempt to uphold a failed democracy, or a move to disarm the militias and restore security. Then of course there is the third option of exit, and a disastrous cascade of strategic setbacks in the war on terror. Democracy remains valid as a long-term goal. But rapid democratization through quick elections, in the absence of a monopoly of force held by the central power, has been shown not to work.
I've highlighted the questionable points. Kurtz's first two mission options are very poor. Why would we try to buttress a failed democracy? Isn't that just the George Bush on-the-cheap approach to war, aka Stay the course? I think that one is off the table. Second option: disarm the militias and restore security. While we're at it, I'd like a million dollars, an Italian sports car, a month-long vacation, a new house, all my debts paid off in full and long term financial security for my entire family. Let's not wish for things that aren't going to happen, ok? Finally, the fact that Kurtz ignores the only viable option, withdrawl, tells us all we need to know about him. Setback in the war on terror? Is he too obtuse to recognize that the violence in Iraq was created by
the US invasion, or does he really believe that we are at war with Cobra
? Next paragraph:
Politically, we may need to pretend that Iraq's democracy is still functioning. Today's NR editorial on Iraq strikes the right note on all the military questions, then says what has to be said about Iraq's government. But the fact that we've got to go after Sadr militarily reveals that democracy as we've conceived it up to now has been flawed. By failing to disarm independent militias prior to elections, we've allowed elected governments to be taken over by independent and undemocratic forces. This has also made it impossible to even begin the long-term process of cultural change that is the real key to successful democracy. Both Peters and NR's editorial are saying "security first." Democracy cannot be used, as we have tried to use it, as a tool to bring about the political bargains necessary to security. Democracy can only flourish in an atmosphere where security has already been assured.
You see, he's absolutely right here. But don't these basic observations about democracy and anarchy contradict the goals of the so-called war on terror? How do you accomplish cultural change? (Actually, I disagree with him on
this. Democracy is not a product of culture, it is a product of social homogenization). Can the conditions for democracy be wrought at the barrel of a gun? C'mon. Next:
The underlying problem with this war is that, from the outset, it has been waged under severe domestic political constraints. From the start, the administration has made an assessment of how large a
military the public would support, and how much time the public would allow us to build democracy and then get out of Iraq. We then shaped our military and "nation building" plans around those political constraints, crafting a "light footprint" military strategy linked to rapid elections and a quick handover of power. Unfortunately, the constraints of domestic American public opinion do not match up to what is actually needed to bring stability and democracy to a country like Iraq.
Fuck off. Please, just fuck off. The MILITARY plans the logistics of war, you moron, not the taxpayers. The military, if you'll recall, said we needed to go into Iraq with MORE troops, not less. And that war criminal Don Rumsfeld summarily dismissed any brass that interferred with his fantasies of a small army spreading peace to the world. Ideology at the highest levels of the administration created the constraints, not the public. Just like those fucking neocons
, Kurtz is blaming everyone for the Iraq fiasco except
the people who are actually responsible. Like Bush, they are trying to salvage their legacy against the tides of history which will surely be unkind to neocon philosophy. And of course, while these people are shifting blame and trying to save face, more GIs are getting killed in Iraq for no reason. They're
dying in a foreign country so Kurtz and Bush and Friedman can feel good about themselves.
I can't write anymore. These people make me sick.