January 30, 2005

The Deafening Silence of the Left Blogosphere

It's Hercules day over at Atrios (bad news for Blair!). Memo to Duncan Black: Lots of other stuff went down today too. Get your head out of your rear end. Meanwhile, over chez Kos, the silence is rather deafening, isn't it? Doubtless Kos would have emerged from his Sunday slumber if the requisite amount of fatalities and assorted 'bad news for Chimperor' made it worth it. Instead, it's a quiet day over in Cali for the bitter Kossacks. Good.

Meanwhile, I got this E-mail from a fan of Duncan Black's a couple days back:

With all due respect I think you are being unfair to Duncan Black (Atrios). As a reader of his site, I have no reason to believe that he's hoping for elections to go badly tomorrow. More generally I think the skepticism expressed by the mainstream blogospheric left (I'm excluding some of the Daily Kos comment-section participants, etc) isn't aimed at undermining the election, though perhaps it's occasionally poorly articulated. Instead, whether you agree with them or not, they're emphasizing two relevant points:

1) Prior to the war, the President and his supporters, even when conceding that Iraq's transition to democracy might not be complete immediately, did not in any way publicly (privately?) consider the chaotic and extremely dangerous (for Iraqis) elections we're observing on the today. If they had, many people who supported the war would have had second thoughts.

2) Throughout the past two years, the President has consciously made decisions that made the circumstances surrounding this election worse than they needed to be.

I don't know how it's possible to present these two points without mentioning the problematic setting of these elections. Obviously there are many fools who go further and say the elections are a "sham" or "joke", but they're not writing any of the major left-of-center blogs I read.

With apologies to my reader, I'm just not buying. Kos and Atrios can wail and bitch all they want about the varied missteps of the Bushies. But at least he is in the arena, making hard choices, pushing this nation-building exercise along. Look, this blog has never been shy about taking the Administration to task for poor post-war planning and assumptions. But the point here, and it's showcased today in spades, is that neither of these leading left blogosphere entities really give a damn about Iraqi democratization. If they did, they would have shown some integrity and deigned to show a modicum of interest by mentioning that the elections went, all told, much better than the large majority of analyst's most optimistic prognostications foretold.

Instead, as I mentioned, it's the downed UK aircraft that's the lede over at Eschaton. Yes, that's a tragedy for all involved. But it's not the big story today, of course. Unfortunately, however, Kos and Atrios can't broach the big story, at least if it's a positive one, because they are merely playing to rabid partisan audiences and so are stuck tiresomely dwelling in their own provincial echo chambers. History moved forward today (though the road ahead remains fraught with peril, to be sure, and the Administration is well aware of this); and they remained silent or blogged diversionary side stories. That speaks volumes, doesn't it?

Americans expect optimism and bold, positive policy directions from their Presidents. They like their Reagans, not their Carters. If the Duncan Black's and Marcos Zuniga's represent the future of the Democrat party, rest assured the democrats will be out of power for a good long while yet. And that would be a good thing if these are the people who get the pulse of the party's activists racing. They are simply too busy carping from the sidelines to put forward serious alternative ideas about America's role in the world today. What should we do, really, about the threat of radical Islam? What would they have done so differently in Afghanistan? Why was Iraq such a mega-blunder, if a viable democracy can take root there? What would they be doing better against al-Qaeda? (let me guess, Gore would have nabbed UBL right out of the gates, right?) They have little on tap on all these matters of any note, truth be told. I sense, in all this, an unconcern about the greater world outside the United States (particularly with Black) and a good deal of intellectual laziness. Tant pis, I guess.

P.S. To Kevin Drum's credit, he calls the election "good news." To paraphrase Jose Aznar's statement to Bush ("more Powell, less Rumsfeld") I say, more Peter Beinart, more Kevin Drum; less Atrios, less Kos. Oh, and more of the (very under-appreciated) Praktike (of the aptly named "Liberals Against Terrorism") and Eric Martin too.

P.P.S. And add the estimable Brad DeLong to the honorable ranks of the, er, reality based left-bloggers acknowledging that, as Brad titles his post, "Iraqi Elections Going Well."

MORE: Eschatonianism in three short sentences!



"We cannot, of course, command our friends to write something about today's momentous events, but it would have been nice to think that they would have mustered up the energy to make some sort of comment. Betcha that if things went badly, they would have been blogging up a storm."

Heh, ya think?

Posted by Gregory at January 30, 2005 11:09 PM | TrackBack (28)

Shameful, but I think that both sides would do well to remember that it's about the Iraqis rather than US.

Thank you kindly for the shout-out and right back atcha; we kept a running open thread on the elections here.

Posted by: praktike at January 31, 2005 12:04 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

See also Michael Young's words of wisdom

Posted by: praktike at January 31, 2005 12:13 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Perhaps they want to, but they know their audiences can't handle it.

Posted by: aaron at January 31, 2005 12:56 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

"Clergymen used special services Saturday for Ghadeer Day, which marked the Prophet Muhammad's nomination of his son-in-law Ali as his successor, to pray for smooth and safe elections, he said."

This from AP via Yahoo.

Is the date a coincidence?

Posted by: testing, testing at January 31, 2005 12:57 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Praktike, what part of any of this would have happened or indeed might ever happen were it not for the actions of the U.S.? Yes, it is about the Iraqis, but they know whom to thank. George W. Bush, actually.

Posted by: Peg C. at January 31, 2005 12:58 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Just read the piece, Peg.

Posted by: praktike at January 31, 2005 01:10 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Josh Marshall has yet to make any commentary at all on the Iraqi elections..


Posted by: Darwin at January 31, 2005 01:14 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Factual quibble with your post: The C-130 Hercules is an airplane, not a helicopter.

Posted by: The Sanity Inspector at January 31, 2005 01:16 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

"It's not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbled, or when the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena; whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions and spends himself in a worth cause; who at the best, knows in the end the triumph of high achievement; and who at the worst if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory or defeat."
Theodore Roosevelt

Posted by: DavidB at January 31, 2005 01:21 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

You say Bush is "in the arena" but he is not in theatre and did everything he could not to be in theatre 34 years ago, including pulling all his Daddy's political strings. I don't suggest that making these big, world changing decisions is easy. But, it's a damn site easier to put your political ass on the line than it is to put your ass out on the firing line. Where were his cojones during the Vietnam conflict. I'll tell you where they were; making the rounds on the cocktail party circuit. Sometimes I get a little fed up with people who want to genuflect to these chicken-hawks just because they don't flinch at putting other people's children in harms way!--Pikerman

Posted by: Pikerman at January 31, 2005 01:24 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

re: chopper vs. airplane. thx for head's up. fixed.

Posted by: greg at January 31, 2005 01:27 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

The "left's" response to these successful elections simply confirms my belief that being "politically correct" is scarely more than bourgeoise hippy stalinism.

Posted by: Brooks at January 31, 2005 01:28 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I'm to the left of center I'm certainly no bourgeoise hippy stalinist. My reaction to today's elections, which I emailed to all my lefty friends was as follows: "Up to eight million voters went to the polls todaydespite very real death threats and acts of violence. These people deserve our respect for having the courage to risk their life in order to advance the cause of democracy in Iraq and around the world. I have not always embraced the Bush administration's policy in Iraq. However, I do embrace the ideals of democracy, I do admire courage when I see it, and I do have nothing but the best wishes for the Iraqi people and for the future of mankind. Today, eight million people in Iraq have inspired me to have hope for our future."
How's that for a reaction from the left? I'm proud to be a liberal and I know that there are times when the nation has to fight. I just don't trust politicians, especially those that grew up with silver spoons in their mouths. Like I heard someone say the other day, "George Bush was born on third base and grew up thinking he had hit a triple."--Pikerman

Posted by: PIKERMAN at January 31, 2005 01:43 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

PIKERMAN: get real. You say, "Where were his cojones during the Vietnam conflict. I'll tell you where they were; making the rounds on the cocktail party circuit." I guess flying planes that were nicknamed the "widowmakers" because they had a high propensity for blowing up in mid air counts as having "no cojones".

Here's some advice: calm down and take out the bitterness in your posts and you might be better received. Right now you appear to be nothing more than a bitter Bush hater.

Posted by: likwidshoe at January 31, 2005 01:47 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I am sick unto death of listening to people like Pikerman spreading shit, then accusing Republicans of "lying."

"... Bush is "in the arena" but he is not in theatre and did everything he could not to be in theatre 34 years ago, including pulling all his Daddy's political strings."

That's a lie. It was a lie when it fell into the rest of the droppings of the Travis County moonbat colony, it's been a lie every time it was repeated, it's still a lie, and you are a lying liar who lies like a rug, Pikerliar.

George W. Bush volunteered for a job that was hard, involved an extended active commitment, and had (at the time he volunteered) a very high likelihood of requiring active duty in Viet Nam. And because the job had those qualities there was no waiting list and no need for political influence to get it, so none was used.

If you expect anyone to pay attention, stop the lies, Pikerliar.


Posted by: Ric Locke at January 31, 2005 01:58 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink


How's that for a reaction from the left?

It's scarcely one millimeter above simple self-congratulation, is my reaction.

All these good things that we all prize don't just float down from the sky. Real, flawed, humans have to make them happen, in the face of the possibility of failure and against legions of carping naysayers.

They say history is written by the winners. Not anymore. Nowadays, as Lileks said, history is written by historians. No doubt they'll shortly be publishing tracts entitled "The Recontextualized Homologies of Homologized Recontextualizations in Smirky McChimpler's War for Oil." Fine, let 'em. But I know I'll be telling my children a different story around the hearth, in the years to come.

This is (1) a great day for civilization, which (2) never would have come if the Voices Of Reason© had had their way. Don't let anybody forget it.

Posted by: The Sanity Inspector at January 31, 2005 02:13 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

You guys on the right like to throw those words "bitter" and "Bush hater" around. I don't hate George Bush. I just don't trust him. That's not the same thing. If Mr. Bush is so concerned about our security and the security of our allies, then a military intervention in Iran is almost a fait acompli. After all, there have been several reliable reports lately that the Iranians are very close to producing a viable nuclear weapon. Additionally, they already have delivery systems that can reach Western Europe, not to mention Israel. Yet I will bet my bottom dollar that there will be no U.S. military intervention into Iran, unless the Israelis take action that forces our hand. I think "capturing" Iraq was the goal all along and the rest of this democratization poppycock is a red herring. Oh, there might be some ancillary benefits in the region; I don't deny that. But when it comes to the tough slogging in the mountainous terrain of Iran, where our tanks and much of our air power will be rendered impotent, I think you are going to hear a lot more talk and see a lot less action. So, unless the Israelis take the initiative or there is a people's revelution against the clerics in Iran, North Korea and China are going to have another nuclear ally on their side of the fence. I don't hate George Bush, I just like staight talk and I don't think we're going to be getting much of that from our heroic leaders in the future.--Pikerman

Posted by: PIKERMAN at January 31, 2005 02:16 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

This will be my last post for the night, maybe forever. This should give Mr. Locke some relief. I really don't take to kindly to being called a liar. I may be misinformed sometimes, but I try hard not to lie, especially when I am trying to pursuade. I guess I must be totally misinformed about the time Mr. Bush spent working on the Alabama senator's campaign, rather than flying those widowmakers. I also guess us lefties don't have any monopoly on the name calling and the bitterness. For all of you who agree with Mr. Locke's sentiments, I invite you to go on down to your local recruiting office and saddle up. Talk is cheap gentlemen, but the dirty low-down often carries a very high price. Good night and may God bless you all, you too Mr. Locke, and may God bless America. Goodnight.--Pikerman

Posted by: PIKERMAN at January 31, 2005 02:34 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Pikerman - dont assume that folks who dont follow your political dictate are fools and cant see through your words. Sure you are a lefty Bush-hater. It is just that you are trying to cover your rear, now that the Iraqi Election has been a success, despite all that the terrorists ( who are so well loved by the US lefties) tried. You and your like would have loved it if the Election had been a fiasco, and now, lefties all over have to stop and think and figure out how to respond, since their team, zarkawi and his terrorists were not able to derail teh voting process. What will you guys noy say? that the 8 million who braved the violence and the threats today are stooges of the Republicans?
We aint all that stupid, Pikerman, even those of us who are proud to be American, and who voted for Pres Bush twice. BTW, I am an immigrant, and, as lefties in my University like to describe, am a "person of color", and I dont buy into the whole po-mo, hate-America ideological madness that has overcome academia and the American left today, and I love the USA!!!!!!

Posted by: ronin at January 31, 2005 02:43 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Sorry, after reading the last post, I couldn't resist. I promise this will be the last one; I guarantee! This isn't a forum for debate and the exchange of ideas, this is a circle jerk. Anyone who disagrees with your point of view is called a liar and and supporter of murderers and terrorists. These tactics will not succeed in pursuading me that your ideas have merit. In fact, you have succeeded in alienating me. Instead of pursuading me, you have energized my resolve to work harder in the political arena to defeat candidates that share your misguided ideologies. You have accomplished nothing but the exact opposite of what your goal should be when participating in a political debate forum. Ronin, I fail to see what your status as an immigrant and "person of color" has to do with the discussion the other participants in the forum were trying to have. Well, enjoy preaching to the choir. After this little adventure, this liberal (I'm really not that liberal, pro death penalty for instance) will work out my frustration with this forum by working hard for my candidates in the 2006 Congressional elections. Adieu--Pikerman P.S. I thought a little French would really blow your minds.

Posted by: PIKERMAN at January 31, 2005 03:11 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Pikerman, if your posts are not motivated by hate, why are you lying about George Bush? CBS' own Mary Mapes discovered witnesses to George Bush having volunteered to go to Vietnam and hushed it up in favor of pushing forged documents.

Posted by: Robin Roberts at January 31, 2005 03:23 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

parsimony would dictate that we look for the simplest explanation among the many available - the majority of the left is anti-democratic.

It's evident that there's a residual amount of good faith extended to leftists by older people. But for those who'd grown-up in the '70's and 80's, the image of leftists as noble, well intended if somewhat starry-eyed, citizen-activists seems largely propagandistic. We've never known a noble or civil left. Our left is the purge, the inquisitors, the sex and speech cops, mystical irrationalists and narcissistic trangressives.

The bigger problem is NOT how to deal with the current crop of lefty boomers, it's how to thwart their progeny. These are the kids who'd gone through the gulag and liked it ! I'd put even money on a terrorist action by a radical left group within the next seven years.

Posted by: Hey Che at January 31, 2005 03:42 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

The soft bigotry of low expectations, I guess.

Give credit where it's due; Leftwing,Rightwing, or any other wing.
But really. Some Lefties say the election was a success? Wow. How brave.

It's like congratulating them for saying the sun comes up in the East. Because they have sunk so low we are surprised when they do something halfway decent.

Oh, well. Here you go: Bully for you guys.(golf clap)

Posted by: Les Nessman at January 31, 2005 03:45 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

"... Our left is the purge, the inquisitors, the sex and speech cops, mystical irrationalists and narcissistic trangressives."

We must have gone to college together !

I think you're right about people being nostalgic about leftists because of the 60's.

I can still remember my experiences with lefty teachers as a young kid. They didn't seem to feel any conpunction about indoctrinating children. And they were always kind of childish - they'd get into personal, emotional, arguments with the kids. I distinctly remember being told that we were going to have a nuclear war when Bush 1 was elected.

The fact that leftist prey on children has always upset me. We wouldn't let some rabid religous fundamentalist indoctrinate children in a public school, so why do we tolerate political idealogues ?

Posted by: Ron Miles at January 31, 2005 04:23 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

In response to Pikerman: As for referring to the men and women in the Armed Forces as children and thereby being both dismissive of our personal choices and condescending toward adults with a mission in support of our country, I think you speak out of turn and beyond your bounds of responsibility. I appreciate your concern, but I think we in the military know how to wipe our own respective butts.

Posted by: John Jones at January 31, 2005 04:33 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink
But when it comes to the tough slogging in the mountainous terrain of Iran, where our tanks and much of our air power will be rendered impotent. . .

Just like the mountainous terrain of Afghanistan, eh? Next up: the Brutal Persian Winter™.

One almost wonders what Pikerman thinks kept Bush and Co. from invading Iran first. It's not as if Iran has no oil.

Nice to see a warmongering lefty on occasion, though. A refreshing break from the usual sanctimonious reactionary monotony.

Posted by: E. Nough at January 31, 2005 05:21 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Maybe it's just me, but anytime I see a "warmongering lefty" complaining about Bush's supposed problems with TANG service I immediately desire: 1) a look at their full military record; and 2) some proof of their actually looking at any established facts (as opposed to the wild suppositions being waved about as facts) in the situation. Then, of course, I want to have my eyeballs washed.

Posted by: JorgXMcKie at January 31, 2005 06:57 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Let the lefty losers wallow in their miserable shit today and complain about GWB and Jesusland and WMD. They can take solace in the contributions that Chirac and Schroeder and Ted Kennedy and Kerry and Kofi Annan and SeeBS News and Sorryeverybodywe'relosers and all their compatriots made in supporting the freedom loving and tyranny despising Iraqi people today. Which is a long way of saying none. God bless the Iraqis in their quest for the light of freedom which they and all people deserve.

Posted by: Jack Tanner at January 31, 2005 12:45 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Yes, a new Hollywood horror movie called "The Silence of the Left" would seem appropriate here. Their criticisms are always void of practical solutions to the "disasters in management" they proclaim. I appreciate your response about GW being in the trenches making the tough calls. Reminds of something another great president said:

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat. - Teddy Roosevelt.

Or with those liberal leftist idiots who think there are perfect solutions and processes that can be applied to complicated problems that have fluid and changing variables. As if such solutions can be obtained without making mistakes along the way. Such are the opinions of isolated idiots living in cocoons of their own making, with no real perception of what change and accomplishment require in the real world. Their words are nothing more than adolescent piffle, and their understanding of this world is juvenile at best, ignorant at its fairest.

And so they miss one of the great moments of human history over the last 50 years; this event stands beside the civil rights movement, and the fall of the Berlin wall & communism as defining moments in world history, game changers that altered the face and direction of the world. And -WHOOSH--, it went strait over their heads. Poor fools.

Posted by: Michael at January 31, 2005 03:32 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink


Thanks for the shout out. Much appreciated. As you know, I have been pulling for success in these elections for some time, even going as far as to offer my suggestions for making the transition a success (not that anyone's listening, but I do my part for the prudent echoes). Praktike as well.

Posted by: Eric Martin at January 31, 2005 04:00 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Bonjour Mr Pikerman! I applaud you for your distrust of politicians, particularly those born with silver spoons in their mouths. Do you extend that distrust to John F Kennedy, Ted Kennedy, Al Gore, and John Kerry?
Major Bill

Posted by: Major Bill at January 31, 2005 04:06 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Yeesh, Greg. I mean, if we started quoting some of the comments on this site (and it looks like the one you picked out from Eschaton is a fake) as examples of "Belgravianism" or whatever, you'd be rolling your eyes.

Posted by: Guy at January 31, 2005 04:36 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Wow, what elegant arguments from the right - "Nah, nah, told you so, Bush is a golden God!" Pardon Eric M, Pikerman, and the rest of us if we don't immediately praise the Bush administration for its perserverance and if we don't run out and register as Repubs right now. Instead, let's keep calling each other names and question each other's patriotism like some kind of chest-thumping frat boys.

So the Iraqis got to vote. Swell. Let's wait a few years to see if a Shi'ite dominated government is really what you all think a Muslim democracy is supposed to look like. Then we can determine if 1400+ deaths and 10,000 wounded Americans were worth this experiment.

Better yet, let's start supporting Bush's cry for freedom abroad by aggressively confronting Russia's lack of free press, China's repression of political opposition, and Pakistan's military leadership. Yeah... freedom is on the march! Because Team America is 100 percent right!

Posted by: J. at January 31, 2005 05:11 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Hey Eric,

I guess in reading all this stuff my take on Greg's was correct and your reasons for concern as well. From all quarters of course, but still your point is well taken. I have been out of pocket so I have missed your's and Praktike's coverage over the weekend. I'll make it up over the next few days and try and find something to quibble over and set you off;)

Posted by: Lance at January 31, 2005 05:17 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

As kos points out, this election represents a milestone, not an endpoint. January was the third bloodiest month of fighting since the war started...

Iraq elections

Better yet, here's a good kos diary entry for viewing pleasure...

Vietnam 40 years ago

Now I'm not sure if this is a case of "the more things change, the more they remain the same" or "those that fail to learn from history..."

Posted by: J. at January 31, 2005 05:18 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Just not doing enough reading of the left blogosphere, there Greg. Check out Marc Cooper or my own posting. It's much more comfortable to just tar your ideological enemies than to take them seriously, isn't it?

Posted by: Nils at January 31, 2005 05:59 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

May I remind the triumphalist a--holes that are jumping all over Pikerman that you and the administration have been *wrong* about nearly every important aspect of the Iraqi invasion up til now. Anyone with a brain knew that with our wealth and military might we could defeat Saddam's crappy army, occupy the country, and eventually administer elections. God bless the brave soldiers that fought, but this was hardly the Normandy invasion.

And just as many people with a brain knew that to do this most effectively would require more troops and time than the administration was willing to give. The tens of thousands of dead Iraqi citizens, the thousands of dead american soldiers and tens of thousands of wounded, the thousands of tortured and humiliated Muslims, the untold numbers of people across the planet that have even more cause to hate our arrogance--we will never know how much these problems, the products of our own incompentent administration, could have been prevented by a more careful, patient approach to Iraq. Knowing for sure now what many, wiser folks were saying about Saddam's lack of WMDs, we could have afforded a policy of containment. We certainly could have afforded a longer build-up with a stronger coalition. But the administration fudged the data and misled us and so here we are. But the fact remains that they, and the instability in that country, remain, and are not going to go away anytime soon, in spite of the elections.

Remember what the administration predicted about the war beforehand and during? "Greeted as liberators"? "It would pay for itself"? Catching Saddam would break the back of the insurgency? (By the way, are we allowed to call them insurgents now?) Instead our soldiers have been attacked, it's costing hundreds of billions, and we now call an election a "success" when dozens of people are murdered trying to vote, and hundreds are dying every month. The administration has defined down the success of this war so much that its virtually unrecognizable, and yet, from reading you guys, you'd think it is treason to point these things out.

I hope Iraq is a success, and I hope it becomes a stable country that can serve as some type of model to its neighbors. But I'm not holding my breath, because the moment the rah-rahs from people like you get the loudest is always the moment that immediately precedes things going to sh-t. Not that you can be expected to ever acknowledge it.

And by the way, to the idiot who was arguing for Bush's thwarted martial aspirations as a young man: Bush really did do everything in his power to avoid fighting in the war in Vietnam. Had he wanted to join up he could have done what my father did and enlist (and died). There was not a high probability that he was going to battle in an Air Guard Unit. He wasn't a complete pussy, he did fly planes, but he was a chickenhawk. That's just a fact.

Posted by: Jeff at January 31, 2005 05:59 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Woot woot! Go Jeff GO!

Posted by: J. at January 31, 2005 06:24 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

no one else has stooped to swearing, it shows a lack of decorum.

Bush's TANG service has been vetted a number of times, so no one is going to change their mind about that. He served, he looked into transferring to Vietnam, he ended his service honorably. I doubt anyone here knows enough about his thoughts or motivations at the time to give him the title 'chickenhawk', so by doing that you are projecting your own bias.

I am glad you hope Iraq is a success. Someone pointed out that 47 people are killed on an average day in the US by drunk drivers. 35 are killed on a day when the thugs (insurgents are typically freedom fighters, these enemies have declared themselves to be the enemies of freedom) proclaimed they would do their utmost to kill as many as they could. They threw their best punches, and accomplished nothing.

As far as 'us' being wrong about just about everything... well, duh. Who can predict what will happen in war, or just about anything else? All plans are rendered moot upon contact with the enemy (I think Clauswitz wrote that). The main idea is to have a general script in mind, along with alternate plans ready to go in case something happens. If you define 'success' as being exactly right about how things would proceed, then you have successfully defined it in such a way that it is not achievable (outside of a computer game, anyway). If you define success as getting from point A to B without worrying about the exact route, then Jan 30th was a brilliant success.

Senator Kennedy still refers to Iraq as a quagmire, so not everyone accepted that Iraq would be a cakewalk. I recall 2 days into the invasion that some MSM were referring to Iraq as a quagmire. Asserting now that everyone accepted that the US would defeat Saddam so quickly strikes me as revisionist. I don't recall anyone in the US administration saying that the invasion or the aftermath would be easy. What they said is that they would see it through - and so far that's been true.

I think we have made a lot more friends in the ME through our insistence on democracy than we have enemies. I'd say we have a minimum of 8 million fans right now. That's quite a few more than the other side has. The "Arab Street" has had more than enough time to do whatever they're going to do - the fact that after all this time, after all the hype that was put into this date, that the opposition could do less damage than our own drunken drivers is quite telling. They'll keep trying, but the end game is now in play. They're fighting for nothing - they know they won't win. It isn't because of the might of the US Armed Forces - it's because of the will of the Iraqis. It's the will of the Americans and the use of its excellent armed forces that brough the Iraqis to the point where they could express their will. Now the surrounding countries will have to determine their own course - remaining as they are is not an option. It might not be quick, but the nectar of democracy is impossible to ignore.

Bryan McRoberts

Posted by: Bryan McRoberts at January 31, 2005 06:43 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Good grief. It's all about you, isn't it?

I am very disappointed in Atrios and Kos. However. Josh Marshall has written something good, as has Kevin Drum, as has Brad DeLong, as has Brad Plumer, as has Publius at Legal Fiction, as has Crooked Timber...I could go on.

It's inadequate, but it's not a deafening silence. If you want to see a deafening silence, read the right wing blogosphere, minus yourself and Andrew Sullivan, on the torture issue.

Posted by: Katherine at January 31, 2005 06:49 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink


For those of us non-triumphalists who still consider this a success, regardless of any debate on the quality of its execution, I would like to point out a few things. First, if thousands of US Troops have died it is news to me. Technically we may get there once the count goes past two thousand, but even then it is a rather sloppy use of language. As it stands it is just plain BS.

Second, the administration has lots of things to answer for, and there are undoubtedly some who believed it would be easier than it has been, but your little quotes are not representative of the administration rhetoric now or before the war. They aren't real quotes anyway, but strawmen. Many did greet us as liberators by the way, and many still feel that way.

Third, while you may be right that anyone with a brain knew we could defeat Saddam, occupy the country and hold elections, then it speaks vey poorly of all the people who have denied all three repeatedly, including many of those who Greg is disparaging and you are taking the time to defend. However, it is nice to hear you admit how many of the wars opponents lacked a brain. If I could just take people such as Praktike, Eric Martin and some few other critics of the administrations policies and form a party around it this country just might get somewhere. However, I would like to know what you suggest we do with the remaining legions of the brainless? Remember you were the one who said people who held such views were so afflicted, I think it is incumbent upon you to find a solution.

Posted by: Lance at January 31, 2005 09:39 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Three general comments.

1. It is simply astonishing to me that people can assert that it was obvious that Saddam could have been defeated, the country occupied and elections held. Similarly for the war in Afghanistan. It is so simple,using Google, to go back a couple of years and read the dire predictions about how difficult Afghanistan was going to be, given the Russian experience, and how formidable any attack on Baghdad was going to represent. And some of this was from retired MILITARY people, let alone the Left. I mean, come on.

2. Surely any criticism of the George Bush of 30 years ago has to be tempered with similar considerations about the young Bill Clinton?

3. It is somewhat ridiculous to hear those who disapprove of the war in Iraq nevertheless insisting that Bush prove his point by waging further wars in Iran and North Korea.

Posted by: melk at January 31, 2005 10:24 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Thanks for luring me onto the Atrios website. That's 30 seconds of my life I'll never get back.

"Oh yeah, now I remember why I never come here."

Posted by: Ignatius Byrd at January 31, 2005 10:54 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

OK, I've had it with all the hyper-partisan chest-beating BS.

I agree with Greg that it's shameful for Atrios and Kos not to mention how well the elections went. As liberals, we should be encouraged that Iraqis are participating in the democratic process. Christ, we were the ones who fought for women's suffrage- seeing Iraqi women vote should make us positively giddy.

But that doesn't mean all liberals or people on the left deserve to be broadly smeared. See this quote:

Or with those liberal leftist idiots who think there are perfect solutions and processes that can be applied to complicated problems that have fluid and changing variables. As if such solutions can be obtained without making mistakes along the way. Such are the opinions of isolated idiots living in cocoons of their own making, with no real perception of what change and accomplishment require in the real world. Their words are nothing more than adolescent piffle, and their understanding of this world is juvenile at best, ignorant at its fairest.

Look: while many people on the left are just a bunch of whiners who offer no real solutions, there are many, many people (like Josh Marshall, Kevin Drum, etc.) who offer criticism of the Bush administration BECAUSE THEY HAVE GENUINE DISAGREEMENTS WITH HIS POLICIES THAT THEY WANT TO SEE CHANGED.

If the administration had listened more carefully to the concerns of others (not just the left but some of its own generals and GOP senators like McCain and Lugar), lots of suffering could have been avoided. This is not to say that the goal of democracy promotion isn't worthy (it is), but everyone who dares criticize this administration does not deserve to be labeled juvenile and ignorant.

Posted by: Brad Reed at January 31, 2005 10:59 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Given the track record of the Left, from communism, to support of Stalinism, and the support of every evil dictator the world over, no wonder why nobody takes y'all seriously. And I guess, even us stupid red-staters saw through you all, and your charade.

Posted by: sid at January 31, 2005 11:53 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Very nice straw man you got there.

Look, are some members of the Chomsky/ANSWER sect of the left sympathetic to undemocratic regimes? Sure.

But most of us aren't like that. Personally, I was THRILLED to see Iraqis get out and vote. I want to see them take political control of their destiny and produce a decent state.

My major problems with the Bush administration are its record on human rights and its daft fiscal irresponsibility. But promoting democracy is wonderful.

So cut out this "the left hates freedom" crap, OK?

Posted by: Brad Reed at February 1, 2005 12:05 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Oh, and one more thing (sorry for all the self-righteous rage):

I've been a member of Amnesty International since I was 15. Say what you will about Amnesty's general slant (I'll admit, it's left), they care deeply about human rights, regardless of the regime that's abusing them. With the exception of the ANSWER nutjobs, supporting human rights has been a proud legacy of progressive tradtion. From promoting women's rights to ending segregation, to campaigning against apatheid.

Posted by: Brad Reed at February 1, 2005 12:28 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I agree the left used to be against fascism Brad. I also agree that many here tar everyone with the same brush. However, it wasn't "the left" that was in favor of Womens rights. It was a broad swath of people. Many had opinions on other matters which we might call "right wing" such as a belief in free markets, gun rights, anti-abortion or other things. Other who we might include in the left supported those things while supporting Stalin. The 1965 Civil Rights act had a higher level of support in congress from Republicans than Democrats which most "leftists" and more broadly Democrats seem to be unaware of and usually unwilling to believe.

I understand your displeasure with the smearing of everybody to the left of Newt Gingrich. However, maybe you and others could avoid claiming responsibility for all that is good in this world for the left or Democrats. By the way when people speak of the left they usually are not talking about Bill Clinton or someone such as yourself. They mean Chomsky, Moore, Kos, Atrios and those that enable and truck with them. Some are less discriminating, but usually that is what they are talking about.

Posted by: Lance at February 1, 2005 01:43 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I agree with you about Kos, have mixed feelings about Atrios- I think he's a very smart guy, but, like Glenn Reynolds, is far too partisan and nasty to people who don't deserve nastiness (though he's always good for ripping into O'Reilly- who always, ALWAYS deserves it- I needn't add that there are plenty of highly disagreeable people on "the right," most of whom have shows on FOX News, but I always make a point to differeniate between them and conservatives).

And yes, I know that many Republicans supported women's and civil rights. The Dems who didn't support desegregation weren't liberals, though- they were the aristocratic "Dixie-crat" types who left the party after LBJ signed civil rights legislation.

Posted by: Brad Reed at February 1, 2005 02:04 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Brad --

Amnesty is a purely political organization. They really don't care at all about Human rights, only politics.

They give passes to regimes like China, Iran, Saddam's regime, Chavez's, Castro's all because they are anti-American. Meanwhile ... wait for it ... naming Abu Graib as the biggest human rights violation and problem in the past year.

If Amnesty International actually CARED about Human Rights they would be calling for military action to overthrow Iran's regime, and would have supported Bush's overthrow of Saddam. Whatever you might think of Bush, while the Amnesty/HRW/ICRC folks were dining at Davos with Sharon Stone and Bono and loony Angelina Jolie year after year while Saddam fed folks into shredders, and many "passionate" letters to the editor were sent, Bush (for his own reasons to be sure) did something. He got rid of Saddam. Something Amnesty would have never accomplished.

The Left, ESPECIALLY including Amnesty, but also idiots like Shiela Jackson Lee (Lunatic Dem-Oakland) have called for a boycott of Sudan, in the hope that THIS will stop the killing and lead to the regime's overthrow. This is just lunacy, projecting the suffragette, civil rights struggle, and Ghandi's movement in liberal, democratic Britain and the US to a brutal tribal society based on terror and murder.

I really wish the so called "reality based" community would start living in the real world. Evil men who rule on murder and terror leave only one way ... feet first.

Posted by: Jim Rockford at February 1, 2005 06:36 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink


I appreciate the comment. I think you in general are correct. However, defining those who were opposed to Civil Rights as not being liberal may be your right, but by those lights I can define much of the Republican Party and many libertarian leaning people as liberal, including Ronald Reagan (remember, his two favorite Presidents were FDR and Kennedy.) Which in traditional terms they were as liberalism was defined as favoring a limited state and democracy. I can also define many of those now considered liberal as reactionaries, leftists, whatever. Such political labels are pretty unhelpful (and I guess you probably agree) disguising more than they illuminate.

In fact many of those democrats you claim were not really liberals actually were in contemporary parlance, except on civil rights. It is convenient to ignore that, or the Democratic Party’s long accommodation of them. Also, not just many republican legislators supported civil rights, the majority did. That can't be said of the democrats. It wasn't just a few holdouts, but the majority.

Liberalism in its traditional sense, as opposed to what it means now, informs both parties in different ways and in different areas and is where such good deeds come from. You don't get to claim it for the democrats or the left alone.

Such beliefs in the worth of struggle for human freedom do not have much room on the "left" any longer, though I wouldn't say that democrat and left in the sense I am using it are synonymous. The left has rejected traditional liberalism; it has even rejected much of what was the basis of the left in the previous century. Statist dividing up of our society along racial and other lines bears little resemblance to the original liberal desire for allowing minorities and women a place in the liberal order. The modern left is in the end illiberal. That is a tragedy and whatever the merits of the Iraq war, the strikingly illiberal response to the liberal aspirations of the Iraqi people and the support and sympathy given to fascists by those such as Moore and Ramsey Clark exposes that for all to see. That such people have a place of honor in the Democratic Party should shock true liberals, even more than a Buchanan should shock those in the liberal tradition in the Republican Party. I don't belong to either, but I'll take a bigot with a relatively restrained view of the state over someone who supports and enables the likes of Milosovic and Saddam any day.

As for Glen Reynolds being nasty, I suggest you show a rather intolerant or at least thin skinned strain. O'reilly I'll give you, but Glen is hardly a conservative, in fact by most any definition he is a liberal. He voted for and at one time even worked on the campaign for Al Gore. He supports gay rights, women’s rights, civil rights, thinks the Bush administration has restricted our liberties too much, etc. Far beyond that he is one of the most humane and considerate commentators on the web. What he is not is partisan. He may have opinions you disagree with, he may go after many a liberal (in the contemporary, leftist, sense of the word) shibboleth, and most importantly carry a huge influence (which is not his fault, but would you rather it be Kim du Toit?) but he is as willing to go after the "right" when they are full of it as the left. Compared to Josh Marshall, Yglesias or Drum, and the last two I have a lot of respect for, he is much more humble and tolerant of people he disagrees with. I don't get it.

Posted by: Lance at February 1, 2005 02:56 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink


I hope the regulars realize where all the lefty traffic is coming from. All the 'bats that were drawn to your "Dump Rummy" and "Abu G Outrage" postings of the last couple of months.

Time to pick a side, Greg. You know what Coulter says...

Posted by: Tommy G at February 1, 2005 04:54 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Tommy G eloquently illustrates what's wrong with our political discourse. Choosing what's right and wrong shouldn't come down to which "side" you're on.

If Greg and Andrew Sullivan believe that the government's detainee rights policy is wrong, they should be free to say so without having their "conservative credentials" questioned. The moral relativism and intellectual decadence of certain segments of the left (the Ramsey Clark/Michael Moore wing that Lance describes) has its place on the Ann Coulter/Sean Hannity right.

Personally, I'd like to start a third party for the sane people...

Posted by: Brad Reed at February 1, 2005 06:52 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Jim Rockford writes:

They give passes to regimes like China, Iran, Saddam's regime, Chavez's, Castro's all because they are anti-American.



"Serious human rights violations continued and in some respects the situation deteriorated. Tens of thousands of people continued to be arbitrarily detained or imprisoned for peacefully exercising their rights to freedom of expression, association or belief."


"Scores of political prisoners, including prisoners of conscience, were arrested. Others continued to be held in prolonged detention without trial or were serving prison sentences imposed after unfair trials. Some had no access to lawyers or family. Freedom of expression and association continued to be restricted by the judiciary, and scores of students, journalists and intellectuals were detained. At least 113 people, including long-term political prisoners, were executed, frequently in public and some by stoning, and 84 were flogged, many in public."

Chavez's Venezuela:

"At least 50 people were killed and many more wounded in the context of a failed coup to remove President Chávez in April. Political polarization, violence and repeated rumours of coups increased instability and threatened to lead to further serious human rights abuses. There were widespread reports of police killings in several states. There were a number of threats and attacks on journalists and opposition supporters. At least three peasant farmer leaders were killed. The criminal justice system failed to respond adequately to these crimes, undermining the rule of law. There were repeated mass demonstrations both in support of and against the government. On a number of occasions excessive force was used by the security forces to disperse protesters. There were several reports of torture and ill-treatment of criminal suspects. There was concern about the plight of refugees fleeing the escalating conflict in Colombia."


"A number of initiatives by unofficial organizations in Cuba called for greater openness and respect for human rights in the country. The authorities largely ignored these efforts, although there were some incidents of harassment of those involved. In February a busload of youths crashed a bus into the Mexican embassy, apparently in search of asylum. The incident sparked a number of apparently pre-emptive arrests of dissidents, with the result that at the end of 2002 there were more prisoners of conscience than at any point during the previous year. New death sentences were handed down although the unofficial moratorium on executions appeared to remain in place. The embargo by the USA against Cuba continued to contribute to a climate in which fundamental rights were denied."

But I guess you're right- Amnesty and HRW are just a bunch of Noam Chomsky-reading, Khmer Rouge-loving Islamocommunifascists.

Posted by: Brad Reed at February 1, 2005 07:22 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink


Oh. So now even "choosing what's right and wrong" doesn't have to involve actually taking a side.

Please keep posting, Brad - you people are priceless.

Posted by: Tommy G at February 1, 2005 07:46 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Hastily written on my part. Should have read, "choosing between right and wrong doesn't mean being so loyal to one party that you can't ever criticize it."

Posted by: Brad Reed at February 1, 2005 09:44 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Brad I'll side with you here. Tommy, I have been an Iraq war supporter from the get go. I may be less exercised than Greg or Sullivan, but I can't blame those who are. It isn't about taking sides, it is about trying to get on the right side. However, even the right side is usually far from perfect and becomes dangerous if immune from criticism.

Despite my (intended to be gentle) criticism of Brad, he seems to be grappling with these issues. Much better than just saying "I am on this side" and being unwilling to assess the flaws and errors of what that side tries to do. Greg does that as well as anyone and is one reason why I find his site so interesting compared to Atrios or Kos or some right wing blogs which I tend to avoid. By the way Brad, Glenn isn't among those ranks. Try Hugh Hewitt who I think has much worthwhile to say, but is such a rabid partisan that it is tiresome.

Posted by: Lance at February 1, 2005 10:31 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Lance... stop with the tiresome testimonials. Want to know a secret? Nobody that's important enough to matter cares.

Deafening silence? What about the deafening silence of responses to your post? Tens of millions of people on the internet, and I'm the only one who cared enough to respond.

"Despite my (intended to be...." ...Gods. Do you read what you write before you post it?

"Brad, I'll side with you..." As if this is some sort of auditorium.

You know what? You're creepy. Walk away from the keyboard - now, while you still can.

Posted by: Tommy G at February 2, 2005 12:20 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink
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