|Man Without Qualities|
Tuesday, June 03, 2003
A terrible editorial gaffe has been committed!
It appears that the Times has inadvertently run another, earlier draft of Waggy Dog Stories instead of Herr Doktorprofessor's actual column today! That seems to be the case because today's "new" column differs in substance from the prior column only in that the "new" column cites to the Times of London instead of the Financial Times, although there is again no cite to Herr Doktorprofessor's own employer. The entire intellectual and analytic substance of the "new" column is as follows (contrary to current Times and Maureen Dowd practice, MWQ will attempt to retain the original meaning in redacting):
Bush administration "grossly manipulated intelligence" about W.M.D.'s. ...[A]nyone who talks about an "intelligence failure" is missing the point. ... Bush and Blair administrations ... demanded reports supporting their case, while dismissing contrary evidence. ... The Times of London ... drew parallels between the selling of the war and other misleading claims: "The government is seen as having `spun' the threat from Saddam's weapons just as it spins everything else." ... "[S]pin" is far too mild a word for what the Bush administration does, all the time. ... the public was manipulated ... the fact that misrepresentation and deception are standard operating procedure for this administration, which — to an extent never before seen in U.S. history — systematically and brazenly distorts the facts. Am I exaggerating? …
Republican ... declared that the latest tax cut benefits "everyone who pays taxes." That is simply a lie. ... eight million children denied any tax break by a last-minute switcheroo [and] 50 million American households ... [A] great majority ... do pay taxes. ... [L]atest in a long string of blatant misstatements. Misleading the public has been a consistent strategy for the Bush team ... So why should we give the administration the benefit of the doubt on foreign policy? ...
Each time, the administration comes up with another whopper ... a large segment of the news media ... obediently insist that black is white and up is down. ... Meanwhile the "liberal" media report only that some people say that black is black and up is up. Democratic politicians offer the administration invaluable cover by making excuses and playing down the extent of the lies.
It's no answer to say that Saddam was a murderous tyrant. ... [The] neoconservatives who fomented this war were nonchalant, or worse, about mass murders ... by Central American death squads in the 1980's. ... The public was told that Saddam posed an imminent threat. ... [T]he selling of the war is arguably the worst scandal in American political history ...
But here's the thought that should make those commentators really uncomfortable. ... Mr. Bush can fight ... a "khaki election" next year. ... our political system has become utterly, and perhaps irrevocably, corrupted [!!!!!]
But here's the thought that should make Herr Doktorprofessor really uncomfortable. Suppose that this "new" column really is a new column, not the accidental printing of an earlier draft from the prior column. Then, despite Herr Doktorprofessor's best efforts, some new information has, in fact, percolated through! For example, he asks why should we give the administration the benefit of the doubt on foreign policy? So Herr Doktorprofessor implicitly admits that his criticisms would be defeated if his readers do, in fact, give the President the benefit of the doubt on foreign policy. And the people will give the President that benefit of the doubt, no matter how high the volume of the Krugmania or how wide the floodgates open at the Times. For God's sake, people gave the Augusta National the benefit of the doubt even after those Times floodgates were opened wide for what seemed like months.
Herr Doktorprofessor also signals by this column his understanding that it is, in fact, an answer to these Krugmanaical rants to point out that Saddam was a murderous tyrant, although there are lots of other effective answers, too. I will credit even his eroding intellect with the ability to understand that American legitimacy in overthrowing a murderous dictator is not undermined by the presence in the Administration of some functionaries who had opinions in the 1980's of which Herr Doktorprofessor does not approve. Or maybe he does approve of those opinions, and is just insisting on consistency from his opponents, since his current argument amounts to a demand that they be nonchalant, or worse, about mass murders in Iraq. In any event, his is not a point likely to find its way soon into a stump speech by any of the various Democratic contenders for the Presidency.
Perhaps the most curious piece of new information appears in his assertion: The public was told that Saddam posed an imminent threat. Perhaps they were. The news pages of the Times made the same assertion a few days ago ("Mr. Powell ... in a dramatic presentation to the United Nations on Feb. 5 ... argued that Iraq's weapons programs and links to Al Qaeda made it an imminent threat to the world."). But during the entire United Nations dust-up it was always quite clear that the United States was not arguing that Iraq needed to pose "an imminent threat" in the meaning of that term in international law for its invasion to be justified. If the public was told that Saddam posed an imminent threat, it certainly wasn't President Bush or his main opponents who were doing the telling. In fact, much of the public debate over the emerging "Bush Doctrine" concerned whether the United States was constrained by arguably out-of-date notions of "imminent threat," as described in this report and the materials it cites:
In September, President Bush unveiled a new military strategy that supports US right to preemptive strikes. "Legal scholars and international jurists often conditioned the legitimacy of preemption on the existence of an imminent threat—most often a visible mobilization of armies, navies, and air forces preparing to attack," the strategy document states. It continues, "We must adapt the concept of imminent threat," and goes on to assert the right to strike first even if no imminent threat exists.
The Administration and Secretary Powell did argue that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction in violation of international law - but the Administration and Secretary Powell did not argue that Iraq was imminently threatening to use those weapons. That's what the Administration's opponents claimed the Administration had to show. Had Herr Doktorprofessor and the Times' reporter perhaps drunk too much iced tea and left the room while all this was going on?
One need not tarry for more than a moment over Herr Doktorprofessor's parroting the Democrats' silly "complaint" that the tax cut doesn't benefit "everyone who pays taxes." The people who have been saying that obviously mean that the tax cut benefits every individual who pays federal income taxes, which is correct. Contrary to the nutty Democrat-Krugmania construction, claims that the tax cut benefits "everyone who pays taxes" were not intended to imply that the cut will result in direct government payments to everyone who pays state and local sales taxes, government "user fees" or foreign income taxes, Parisian airport duties and corprate income taxes. (All of those persons will ultimately benefit from the general stimulative effects of the cut. But that, too, is not what claims that the tax cut benefits "everyone who pays taxes" were intended to mean.) Democrats and Herr Doktorprofessor seem to feel the need to reach their respective bases - in each case apparently a base presumed by them to be ever more lacking in intelligence and education. Those presumptions are errors.
What to make of his hysterical rant that each time the Administration "comes up with another whopper" a large segment of the news media "obediently insist" that "black is white and up is down" while "Democratic politicians offer the administration invaluable cover by making excuses and playing down the extent of the lies?" No doubt the Administration deeply shares Herr Doktorprofessor's desire that Democratic politicians viciously attack the Administration's "lies" as he suggests. Indeed, the image of every single Democratic politician in the nation reading Herr Doktorprofessor's own columns - and then publicly and wholeheartedly adopting Herr Doktorprofessor's thoughts and rhetoric as that politician's own - no doubt brings tears of delirious joy to the eyes of everyone working in the West Wing, right down to the janitors.
Am I exaggerating?
Herr Doktorprofessor writes: Each time the administration comes up with another whopper, partisan supporters — a group that includes a large segment of the news media — obediently insist that black is white and up is down. Meanwhile the "liberal" media report only that some people say that black is black and up is up.
Where does the New York Times fall in this peculiar taxonomy? Surely Herr Doktorprofessor doesn't think that the Times obediently insist[s] that black is white and up is down! But is he admitting that the Times is liberal - or is his employer only "liberal?" If the Times is only "liberal" - but not actually liberal - then Herr Doktorprofessor says it report[s] only that some people say that black is black and up is up. But the Times does more than that! Why, Herr Doktorprofessor himself is proof! So he must be admitting that the Times is actually liberal - not just "liberal."
My goodness! Who would have thought it would be Paul Krugman, of all people, who would break ranks and admit that the New York Times has a liberal bias?! How will that go down with embattled Times management?
The evidence that he is planning his departure from the Times - perhaps for a home in the media of that green and pleasant land he now loves to cite - surely continues to mount!
MORE: Taranto decks Krugman: "But now an argument is developing on the Democratic left that somehow the policies themselves are corrupt--that because Bush doesn't agree with liberal ideas, he is a liar. ... [A]n unusually deranged column even by [Krugman's] standards." So very true. And so very indicative that Democrats peer with increasing panic towards 2004 elections to see looming an image of their prospects that resembles the interior of a roach motel.
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