Thursday, October 19, 2006

How To Become A Columnist In A Major Newspaper

You put on your wingnut hat with two large blue, red and white wings and a picture of George Bush inside a large heart in the middle*. Then you take a keyboard, set your tongue in the middle of your mouth and start banging away.

This conclusion I have drawn from a large and careful study of the U.S. media, and from some recent products of this process of picking columnists. Here, for your enjoyment, is Jonah Goldber, a card-carrying wingnut columnist, on the topic of the Iraq war:

The Iraq war was a mistake.

I know, I know. But I've never said it before. And I don't enjoy saying it now. I'm sure that to the antiwar crowd this is too little, too late, and that's fine because I'm not joining their ranks anyway.

In the dumbed-down debate we're having, there are only two sides: Pro-war and antiwar. This is silly. First, very few folks who favored the Iraq invasion are abstractly pro-war. Second, the antiwar types aren't really pacifists. They favor military intervention when it comes to stopping genocide in Darfur or starvation in Somalia or doing whatever that was President Clinton did in Haiti. In other words, their objection isn't to war per se. It's to wars that advance U.S. interests (or, allegedly, President Bush's or Israel's or ExxonMobil's interests). I must confess that one of the things that made me reluctant to conclude that the Iraq war was a mistake was my general distaste for the shabbiness of the arguments on the antiwar side.

It's shabby to favor war that would stop genocides or starvation? What happened to the values-party? Ok, I guess.

Goldberg then continues getting himself further and further into a real mess:

But that's no excuse. Truth is truth. And the Iraq war was a mistake by the most obvious criteria: If we had known then what we know now, we would never have gone to war with Iraq in 2003. I do think that Congress (including Democrats Hillary Clinton, John Kerry, Jay Rockefeller and John Murtha) was right to vote for the war given what was known — or what was believed to have been known — in 2003. And the claims from Democrats who voted for the war that they were lied to strikes me as nothing more than cowardly buck-passing.

"If we had known then what we know now." How about not using that silly excuse just once. How about asking instead what we really knew then? How about reminding our wingnutty selves about the situation as it was, about Osama bin missing still being missing, about the war in Afghanistan still unwon, about a zillion other important things that were going on. And we threw away all that and went busily after Saddam Hussein, like children playing war. Without any plan for the war's aftermath. Without anyone with any knowledge about the country we were going to invade. Shia. What is that? Who are the Kurds? Where is the oil? What about the fanatic Islamists which were kept suppressed by Saddam? Nah, let's just create some pictures of the Iraqis giving us flowers and us giving their children candy and let's cut out the children's corpses after the suicide bombers hit them.

But this is not how the wingnut columnists write about the opposition. Nope. The opposition is very stupid, very naive and a fanatic lover of all things communist. Even today.

One day I, too, can become a columnist! When I learn to phrase my conclusions like this:

According to the goofy parameters of the current debate, I'm now supposed to call for withdrawing from Iraq. If it was a mistake to go in, we should get out, some argue. But this is unpersuasive. A doctor will warn that if you see a man stabbed in the chest, you shouldn't rush to pull the knife out. We are in Iraq for good reasons and for reasons that were well-intentioned but wrong. But we are there.

Excuse me while I go and bang my head against the garage door. En route there I will burn all my manuscripts and make myself a wingnut helmet with patriotic streamers.
And the jockstrap. Forgot about the jockstrap...