Tuesday, September 21, 2004

david brooks is a spectacular ass

you'd think that if the NYT was serious about having a conservative viewpoint represented, they'd find someone a bit more capable of complex thought than david brooks. today's column is breathtaking in its intellectual inadequacy. happily, it represents the ultimate conservative instinct in this campaign - dumb things down until they can't get any dumber.

brooks takes on kerry's speech yesterday, which was in my opinion, outstanding. talkingpoints memo writes brilliantly on the false duality (status quo vs. immediate retreat) that brooks manufactures. brooksie wastes a few column-inches feigning objectivity and showering kerry with backhanded compliments, but by the end he can't resist humiliating himself:

Substantively, of course, Kerry's speech is completely irresponsible. In the first place, there is a 99 percent chance that other nations will not contribute enough troops to significantly decrease the U.S. burden in Iraq. In that case, John Kerry has no Iraq policy. The promise to bring some troops home by summer will be exposed as a Disneyesque fantasy.

substantively, of course, the entire war was completely irresponsible. bush had NO plan for what would take place post-saddam, and instead embraced an ideological fantasy of harmonious iraqi democracy blooming. in fact, he CONTINUES to do so. disneyesque doesn't begin to adequately capture the level of delusion and denial required to believe that the USA could invade an islamic middle eastern nation, occupy its soil, and convince three disparate ethno-religous groups to share power after decades of internecine warfare. now, maybe brooks is right that there's a 99% chance we wont get international help with kerry in power; but the chances right now are a solid and unwavering 100%.

More to the point, Kerry is trying to use multilateralism as a gloss for retreat. If "the world" is going to be responsible for defeating Moktada al-Sadr and Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, then no one will be responsible for defeating them. The consequences for the people of Iraq and the region will be horrific.

this logic is startling. by its extension (if more than one nation is responsible, none are responsible) the entire notion of 'multilateralism' is both moot and non-existent. i cant decide whats more intellectually bankrupt - the idea that multilateralizing a conflict is equivalent to abandoning responsibility, or the threat about horrific consequences. i'm guessing brooks hasnt spent enough time outside the green zone to understand what horrific means to ordinary iraqis who are afraid to leave their houses and have been for months.

Finally, if the whole war is a mistake, shouldn't we stop fighting tomorrow? What do you say to the last man to die for a "profound diversion"?

and the bold denoument . . . conservatism at its finest. and this is the classic. because as my colleague MB so often puts it, its republicans who make messes and democrats who clean them up. mr. brooks, the war was a mistake, and it was a "profound diversion". but this nation allowed its president to undertake it, and we now bear responsibility for its resolution. perhaps we shouldn't stop fighting tomorrow, but we damn well better get serious about doing something OTHER than fighting as well. because fighting alone (the bush plan) has been a spectacular failure.

to the last man to die for a 'profound diversion' i say: 'this country made a mistake. maybe for the right reasons, maybe for the wrong reasons. but americans take responsibility for our decisions, and we take responsibility for our mistakes. we're doing our best to make things right in iraq. we honor your sacrifice.'

- LH


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