info 10.10.05

Babbling Brooks

David Brooks, in his Times column yesterday, wrote: "After a while, you get sick of the DeLays of the right and the Deans of the left. After a while, you tire of the current Republicans, who lack a coherent governing philosophy, and the current Democrats, who are completely bereft of ideas."

Well, here's the funniest coincidence! After a while, we get tired of tired, incoherent, clueless columnists in our hometown papers. So we riffled through his columns from the past couple of years and what a cheerful series of howlers, knee-slappers, and bloopers we relived! And we wanted to share them with you — so let's roll the tape.
September 9, 2003: Sunday night's presidential speech was a perfect example. The policy ideas Bush sketched out represent such a striking series of policy shifts they amount to a virtual relaunching of the efforts to rebuild Iraq…The essential news is that Bush will do whatever it takes to prevail, and senior members of his administration are capable of looking honestly at their mistakes.
That is essential news. Duly noted. The next pearl is on the subject of the Iraqi insurgents. Note that it was written about six months prior to the Abu Ghraib revelations.
November 4, 2003: History shows that Americans are willing to make sacrifices. The real doubts come when we see ourselves inflicting them. What will happen to the national mood when the news programs start broadcasting images of the brutal measures our own troops will have to adopt? Inevitably, there will be atrocities that will cause many good-hearted people to defect from the cause. They will be tempted to have us retreat into the paradise of our own innocence…The president will have to remind us that we live in a fallen world, that we have to take morally hazardous action if we are to defeat the killers who confront us.
We get all frolicky when Brooks murmurs to us about taking 'morally hazardous action.' You, too?
November 11, 2003: Over the past few months, the Democratic presidential candidates have been peddling a story. The story is that the Bush administration is circumventing the competitive bidding process to funnel sweetheart Iraq reconstruction contracts to major campaign contributors, especially Dick Cheney's old firm, Halliburton…The problem with the story is that it's almost entirely untrue.
We stand corrected. And we're sure this from Reuters, July 7, 2005, is also almost entirely untrue, too: "The United States military has signed a work order with Halliburton to do nearly $5 billion in new work in Iraq under a giant logistics contract that has so far earned the company $9.1 billion, the Army said Wednesday."
December 13, 2003: If the U.S. is going to right its foreign policy, it is going to have to rein in President Bush's tendency to be straightforward. It is going to have to acknowledge that honesty is a good thing when it comes to international affairs — in theory…The men and women in this White House are exceptionally forthright…Sometimes you've got to be slippery to accomplish real good. The Bush administration has become addicted to candor and forthrightness.
Boboland is such a happy place.
April 10, 2004: Come on people, let's get a grip. This week, Chicken Littles like Ted Kennedy and Robert Byrd were ranting that Iraq is another Vietnam. Pundits and sages were spinning a whole series of mutually exclusive disaster scenarios: Civil war! A nationwide rebellion! Maybe we should calm down a bit. I've spent the last few days talking with people who've spent much of their careers studying and working in this region. We're at a perilous moment in Iraqi history, but the situation is not collapsing.
The Situation Is Not Collapsing, OK? But next week, could be a different story.
April 17, 2004: I didn't get this job because I was self-effacing, but today I'm really going to beg for your indulgence. I thought it might be useful to describe the doubts and thoughts going through the mind of one ardent war supporter — me — during these traumatically bloody weeks in Iraq. The first thing to say is that I never thought it would be this bad.
Then the Abu Ghraib revelations hit.
May 8, 2004: Whose bright idea was it to keep Saddam's gulag open as a U.S. prison, anyway?
Maybe the same people who were cheered on to take morally hazardous actions? Just a guess.
September 4, 2004: The fact is, it would be bizarre if a re-elected Bush didn't have a magnified domestic agenda. Periods of war are usually periods of domestic reform because war changes the scale of people's thinking. It injects a sense of urgency. You can see this evolution in the president's own thinking… It should be said that I do have a voice in my head that says this is all a mirage — that all the reform ideas will be tossed aside for the sake of favors for the K Street crowd. But one can sense a tide in the affairs of government.
Brooks ends his column yesterday calling for a return to political basics, evincing a desire for a new, new tide, sure to prove just one more mirage in this barren intellectual desert. MUG suggests, instead, that some career-counseling might be more useful for Mr. Brooks.

If you're a columnist wrong on occasion, that's an occupational hazard. If you're wildly, ludicrously wrong time after time, there's a TV weatherman's job at a local affiliate with your name on it.

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