Thursday, January 15, 2004

Maureen Dowd has surely gone beyond the pale. What is the relevance of this? Does the voice of feminism in journalism truly believe that the successful politician must be a male whose coifed blond wife stands alongside gazing adoringly on her man? And I thought her weird obsession with argyle sweaters and earth tones was strange.

Hello? Maureen? Dr. Dean is, well, a doctor. She has patients. She's normal. The horrible pain Maureen's Blahniks are inflicting must be truly affecting her judgment. No wonder she attacks a "granola crunching" Vermont women wearing comfortable shoes.

And consider her positive views on Ms. Clinton's active role in her husband's organization, frankly I'm confused. I think she's pioneered a new form of neurosis.

I thought he'd disappeared. But, based on the cover of this month's Atlantic Monthly, Beavis has apparently assumed the position of Secretary of Defense. I'm searching for a clearer photograph, but in the meantime, go buy the magazine and take a look at the sinister grinning Joker on the cover.

Buy the magazine in any case for the extensive report by James Fallows on the run up to, in the Daily Show's words, Messopotamia. Not a lot new here, but Fallows covers a lot of ground. It's not that the civilians in the Pentagon and the White House didn't know the worst-case scenario's of occupied Iraq. They had copious information. They just ignored it.

"How could the Administration have thought that it was safe to proceed in blithe indifference to the warnings of nearly everyone with operational experience in modern military occupations? Saying that the Administration considered this a truly urgent 'war of necessity' doesn't explain the indifference. Even if it feared that Iraq might give terrorists fearsome weapons at any moment, it could still have thought more carefully about the day after the war. World War II was a war of absolute necessity, and the United States still found time for detailed occupation planning.

"The President must have known that however bright the scenarios, the reality of Iraq eighteen months after the war would affect his re-election. The political risk was enormous and obvious. Administration officials must have believed not only that the war was necessary but also that a successful occupation would not require [Fallow's emphasis] any more forethought than they gave it."

Fallows suggest three reasons for the blindness:

1. Rumsfeld's "panache." He could do no wrong.
2. The "triumphalism of the Administration. "Today's conservatives are more likely to think that any contrary ideas are leftovers from the tired 1960s..."
3. "The third factor is the nature of the President himself. Leadership is always a balance between making large choices and being aware of details. George W. Bush has an obvious preference for large choices. This gave him his chance for greatness after the September 11 attacks. But his lack of curiosity about significant details may be his fatal weakness. When the decisions of the past eighteen months are assessed and judged, the
Administration will be found wanting for its carelessness. Because of warnings it chose to ignore, it squandered American prestige, fortune, and lives."


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