Ok, I know it's Joe Klein, a man who inspires and requires oxymoronic descriptions, as in a deeply shallow thinker and a seriously trivial-minded writer, in order to begin to give an accurate sense of the man's Red Queen logic---Klein has argued that proof of a person's seriousness on Iraq and issues of national security is that person's willingness to transmit the opinions of people who have been spectacularly wrong for years on Iraq and issues of national security and the premise of his post is that because George Bush and his crew of corrupt incompetents have so thoroughly screwed up in Iraq they deserve the chance to continue to screw up in the exact same way for the next two years.
I know it's Joe Klein, a good gossip columnist who has been traveling for over a decade now on a reputation as an expert on the American political scene, a reputation earned by writing a book-length gossip column that he bravely published under his middle name, Anonymous.
I know it's Joe Klein, who believes that his having said on TV on the eve of the invasion, "This is a really tough decision. War may well be the right decision at this point. In fact, I think it--it's--it--it probably is," amounts to a bold declaration of opposition to the war.
I know it's him, and I know he's just another Cliff Clavin of the Washington Punditocracy, fancying himself an expert on any and every subject that comes up, endlessly spouting off, happy to substitute opinion and conjecture for actual knowledge and asserting unreliable and even nonexistent experts to back him up, and retreating into bluster, paranoia, and hysteria when anyone challenges him on the facts, and I ought to ignore him.
The problem is that while Klein ought to be as thoroughly ignored as the Cliff Clavin, he writes for TIME, he appears regularly on the Sunday morning bobblehead fests, the next book he writes will be a bestseller, and despite his having been wrong about Bill Clinton and the impeachment crisis, despite his having been wrong about George W. Bush, and despite his having been, well, not wrong on Iraq, according to his own lights, but apparently just a coward and liar on the matter, now and for the foreseeable future, he will be treated as a serious thinker by too many people who matter in Washington.
On top of all that, he is what passes for a Liberal in Washington. And according to him, as our official spokesman, we're all traitors, or might as well be, because we're not just defeatists. We're anti-American defeatists. We want America to fail in Iraq because we hate our own country.
The proof of our wishing for it is our pointing out the fact that we have in fact failed. See, it's as if we were looking at the blackened and smoking ruins of the White House and were saying, "Oh my God, George Bush burned down the White House!" and Joe Klein snapped back, "You just want the fire to win. You are pro-fire."
In the Washington Wonderland in which Joe Klein lives and thrives, if you pour enough water on smoking and blackened ruins they will magically reconstitute themselves into a house, a nice house, a better house, an Architectural Digest showcase of a house.
So, I wish I could ignore the guy, and just move down the bar to where Sam is trying one more time to explain the inflield fly rule to Frasier, but I can't, not when he writes that the American left---by which he means exactly what the Right Wing means when they say the American Left, Liberals and Democrats---has "a tendency to assume every U.S. military action abroad is criminal."
Again, we're in Wonderland here, where the proof of thinking that every U.S. military action abroad is criminal is having Joe Klein accuse you of thinking that every U.S. military action abroad is criminal. And, by this logic, the fact that Joe Klein thinks you think this disqualifies you from thinking the war in Iraq is a mistake and a failure.
Of course, Liberals and Democrats supported U.S. military action in Kosovo and last time I checked the map Kosovo was abroad.
And Liberals and Democrats supported U.S. military action in Afghanistan and many of us are still wondering what happened to that one. After all, that's where the actual terrorists were. Does Joe Klein know? Does he care?
And Liberals and Democrats weren't the ones who accused President Clinton of "wagging the dog" when he tried to put missles in the lap of Osama bin-laden during the Impeachment Crisis.
And Liberals and Democrats did not run the candidate for President in 2000 who opposed "nation building," by which he turns out of have meant military actions abroad ordered by Democratic Presidents.
And if anyone had let Liberals and Democrats have it their way, there'd have been American troops in Rwanda to stop the genocide.
And plenty of us still wish we had the troops to spare to send to Darfur.
But I don't want to defend Democrats and Liberals on the grounds that we can be every bit the warmongers and militarists Right Wing Republicans are.
I'm after the assumption behind the argument, the assumption that has been behind the argument that Liberals and Democrats are not to be as trusted on issues of national defense and security for going on three generations---Democrats and Liberals just aren't as ruthlessly committed to the idea of sending American troops to die.
That isn't how the assumption would be phrased by those who assume it. They'd say that Democrats and Liberals aren't willing enough to send American troops to go kill our enemies.
Since there's no intelligent reason to think that the "surge" will accomplish anything positive in Iraq, I assume that the War Party's attraction to surging is based on just that, killing enemies---the dead bodies of brown people will pile up.
That it will also turn a lot of live American bodies into dead ones is the price "we" have to pay.
Besides, what else are our troops good for?
Nevermind that if you count World War I, World War II, Korea, and Vietnam as Democratic wars---and Bob Dole and plenty of Republicans used to be glad to---the Liberal count of dead enemy bodies is multitudinously higher than that the Right has managed to accumulate.
But I'm willing to give the Right credit for wishful thinking and count all the enemy bodies they'd have created in the nuclear first strike against Russia they dreamed of and would have brought about if they'd just been given the chance. (Damn that Nixon and his Detente!) In fact, the only proof that the Right is more serious on issues of national defense and security has been their own talking up of their enthusiastic willingness to start World World III and make us all better dead than Red.
This has been the basic premise. Warmongering is the proof of toughness and seriousness of purpose. It is the basis of all the pro-war rhetoric on the Right since 2003. It is finally the last justification for staying in Iraq. We have to show the world how willing we are to pile up dead bodies.
And this is, when all is said and done, the assumption behind the thinking of the likes of Joe Klein. It's why he was too scared to admit in 2003 that he thought going to war in Iraq was what he now calls a folly. He was afraid that if he opposed the piling up of dead bodies he wouldn't be taken seriously by the warmongers.
But let's get this straight once and for all.
History shows us one thing about the willingness to go to war, the willingness to pile up dead bodies, the willingness to send other people to die for whatever reason and call that the price "we" have to pay.
It has always been the first mark of tyrants and madmen.
Thanks to Greg Sargent, Atrios, the Booman Tribune, Ezra Klein, Kevin Drum, Avedon Carol, Sadly, No, and, especially, to Mr Anonymous himself.