Wednesday, November 29, 2006


[posted by Callimachus]

I'm depressed by people who used to be engaged in the process of making things work, who now content themselves with finding a new and more elaborate way of saying every day, "Bush is a dope; Rummy is a criminal."

I used to go to Belgravia Dispatch to learn something; to learn context to the news, to see analysis. Now I'm more likely to see something like this:

Is that right? Pray tell more on this point Michael, with special attention paid to events ongoing these past few months in ye olde Baghdad town, OK? Not a "true grassroots figure" eh? Well, in a faith-based alternate universe, perhaps. But for those of us who dwell in reality things look, well, different.

So I don't go there. Nothing to learn in a pool of bile. If I want Bush-bashing, I'll go to the experts who have been doing it longer, and better.

But just as converts make the worst zealots in any faith, so the born-again war opponent strives to outdo those who were there all along in the hyperbole of his rhetoric and the clash of his sword of righteousness against his newfound "reality-based" armor. If stridency were all he had going for him in the first place, it wouldn't be so bad. But when you know it's someone who can really think and understand, the descent into the impotence of rage is painful to watch.

Even if he's seeing some things clearly now, judgment is warped by the sense of betrayal involved in feeling you've been forced into a humiliating public reversal. You know you never get a straight view of a man from his ex-wife, however intelligent she is, however well she may know him. It's like that.

It's so bad that Belgravia Dispatch sums up two of his own posts within a couple of days with the same quote from Glenn Greenwald, of all people, to which he can add only wide-eyed "Indeed" and "What he said." Very much in the Instapundit style he ridicules.

And if you can forgive the hypocrisy of fighting snark with snark, Jeff Goldstein got Greenwald pegged nicely recently:

Greenwald is one of those bloggers who appeals to those who without cause believe themselves wordly and educated—you know, the kind of people who like to pretend they know things, and who hide their core ignorance behind rote recitation of talking points prepared for them by an insider’s list of political operatives—but who in actuality are a collection of the easily led and intellectually superficial, prone to willful blindness and in a constant state of rhetorical gamesmanship.

That this sockpuppeting cutout has garnered so many supporters, despite the transparency of his maneuvers (which, let’s face it, they’ve been pointed out so many times that its become rather tedious) is a sign that his readers are either completly dull, rabidly fanatical, or else are so enthralled by the emperor’s bare ass that they refuse to tell him to go put some pants on.

From some people I don't expect any more. From other, I do, and Belgravia used to be such a place. As Greg himself writes, "What a shame keener minds aren't focused on the challenges we face at the present hour ...." What a shame indeed.

At one point Belgravia quotes George Kennan from 2002: "Today, if we went into Iraq, like the president would like us to do, you know where you begin. You never know where you are going to end."

Which is the most plainly obvious platitude ever uttered, if you've studied more than a semester's worth of history.

At the beginning, you never know where it's going to end. It was true of Iraq in 2003. It's still true. In the middle, you never know where it's going to end, either [The outcome of 1918 was as unpredictable in 1916 as it was in 1914].

I don't care how stupid you think Bush is. Worst president ever? Please. Can anything be worse than Nixon, what he actually did to American democracy and American attitudes toward government, and with American global power? Compared with what some memo from some Bush flunky talks about as desiderata?

I don't have time for personal psychodramas and hurt feelings. Talk to me about what we ought to do. Where we ought to go and how we ought to get there; what the consequences will be and how we should meet them.