Monday, October 08, 2007

Beltway Myopia

It's disquieting enough that Fox actually has a show called the "Beltway Boys", where "boys" of around 70 pontificate on what the insular DC crowd is thinking. "Beltway thinking", in this age of information and analysis, is almost synonymous for misguided, arrogant, conventional and flawed thinking. And Fox gives us 30 minutes of it every week.

I accept, however, that Morton Kondracke and Fred Barnes do represent a portion of effete DC culture. That's why this quotation from Fred Barnes is so incredibly disturbing:
You know, I've thought for a long time that Obama's not in quite as strong a position on the war in Iraq as he really thinks he is. Remember, when he famously came out against the war, it was back in a time when the entire world believed that Saddam Hussein in Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, that he would probably be willing to use them himself at some time or pass them along to terrorists who would use them. And yet, Barack Obama was against going to the war at that point. I don't think that shows that he is very strong on national security, which he needs to be. But that argument's not going to be used against him in the Democratic primaries. It would, however, by Republicans in a general election.
So, when everyone else was wrong, OBAMA WAS RIGHT!! And that makes him weak?! What kind of topsy-turvy world must you live in to criticize someone who dared to be correct when everyone else around him was wrong?

The irony gets even worse if you go back and look at what Obama had to say when the United States was being driven to war by a fear-mongering, war-bent President and a cowardly Congress:
After September 11th, after witnessing the carnage and destruction, the dust and the tears, I supported this administration's pledge to hunt down and root out those who would slaughter innocents in the name of intolerance, and I would willingly take up arms myself to prevent such tragedy from happening again. I don't oppose all wars. And I know that in this crowd today, there is no shortage of patriots, or of patriotism.

What I am opposed to is a dumb war. What I am opposed to is a rash war. What I am opposed to is the cynical attempt by Richard Perle and Paul Wolfowitz and other armchair, weekend warriors in this administration to shove their own ideological agendas down our throats, irrespective of the costs in lives lost and in hardships borne.

What I am opposed to is the attempt by political hacks like Karl Rove to distract us from a rise in the uninsured, a rise in the poverty rate, a drop in the median income -- to distract us from corporate scandals and a stock market that has just gone through the worst month since the Great Depression. That's what I'm opposed to. A dumb war. A rash war. A war based not on reason but on passion, not on principle but on politics. Now let me be clear -- I suffer no illusions about Saddam Hussein. He is a brutal man. A ruthless man. A man who butchers his own people to secure his own power. He has repeatedly defied UN resolutions, thwarted UN inspection teams, developed chemical and biological weapons, and coveted nuclear capacity. He's a bad guy. The world, and the Iraqi people, would be better off without him.

But I also know that Saddam poses no imminent and direct threat to the United States, or to his neighbors, that the Iraqi economy is in shambles, that the Iraqi military a fraction of its former strength, and that in concert with the international community he can be contained until, in the way of all petty dictators, he falls away into the dustbin of history. I know that even a successful war against Iraq will require a US occupation of undetermined length, at undetermined cost, with undetermined consequences. I know that an invasion of Iraq without a clear rationale and without strong international support will only fan the flames of the Middle East, and encourage the worst, rather than best, impulses of the Arab world, and strengthen the recruitment arm of Al Qaeda. I am not opposed to all wars. I'm opposed to dumb wars.
Now, I'm not endorsing Obama for President right now. But I wish our Beltway Boys, and all the other "serious" voices who help form our public opinion, had paid attention to him then. Instead, because they were wrong and he was right, they are paying attention to him now, and deriding him for the crime of not suffering from the Beltway myopia that has damaged our country so horribly, and killed so many people.

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Anonymous JW said...

I'm coming out for Obama now. We need change, and he's the right man for the job.

10/08/2007 8:40 PM  
Blogger les said...

You touch one of the more amazing and disheartening aspects of "our" media--the fact that most of the talking heads, columnists, pundits who are presented as if we should pay attention and learn from have, for years, been totally and tragically wrong, about Iraq and so much else. What the hell does it take to lose a job as an "expert" in that business?

10/09/2007 9:59 AM  
Blogger Jim said...

To qualify as a TV expert, you need only be an expert at placing all new and unfamiliar information into a standard model of how the world works and never deviating (no matter how badly facts may contradict previous standard worldview).

Nice post Dan.

10/09/2007 12:07 PM  

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