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Thursday, July 17, 2003


Is it too much to ask Jonathan Chait to "get it"?

posted by annatopia at Thursday, July 17, 2003 permalink View blog reactions
Jonathan, Jonathan, Jonathan, here I am trying to play nice with you guys and you give me another reason to rip my hair out. From your TNR peice, in which you give our candidate an "F" in foreign policy:

The antiwar left and the pro-Bush right, oddly enough, share a glaring misapprehension: Both believe that it can be true that Bush was lying, or that the war was a good idea, but not both. Of course this is nonsense.

Nice sweeping generalisation there, Jonathan.

It's pretty clearly that the Bush administration cut corners (at the very least) in its case for war. But it's also clear that whatever the administration got wrong was only a small subset of its overall argument for war, and that the Bush administration's arguments for war were, in turn, only a small subset of the broader arguments for war.

All those "broader" arguments were never really presented to the public as major reasons for war. Are you trying to suggest that Bush's argument for the war was not largely based on what is now known to be false evidence? Are you suggesting that without the threat of WMDs that the public would still have supported Bush's war as he was arguing it? If so, you don't get it. Before Bush claimed that Hussein was trying to acquire nuclear material and those infamous aluminum tubes, support for the war was less than 50%. After Bush made those claims, support skyrocketed. To claim otherwise is to subscribe to Bush's version of "revisionist history".

Readers of TNR should by now be familiar with lots of arguments for war that deviated from, or frankly contradicted, the administration's own.

I could list a few good reasons of my own for taking down Saddam Hussein, but the point is that Bush never argued in favor of liberation (nor did he mention any of those broader themes you’re talking about). His entire case for war was based on an "imminent threat" to America. And that case was based, as we now know, on lies. Had he taken the high road, and argued that it was our duty to liberate the people from Iraq from a violent dictator, there would have been no need to use false evidence. It was the President's job to lay out the reasons and go from there, and the reasons we were given were complete bullshit.

It's unsurprising that Howard Dean, the de facto leader of the Democratic Party's antiwar caucus, is trying to seize upon news of the administration's dishonesty to discredit his pro-war rivals.

Actually Jonathan, Rep Kucinich is the leader of the truly "anti-war" faction. To lump Dean in with him is to do him a great disservice. Dean is not anti-war. He supported the war against the Taliban in Afghanistan, he supported Gulf War 1, and he has never been known as a dove. Do your homework.

"I think those [Democrats] who supported the war are having a credibility problem," Dean tells The Washington Post. "It's not enough to say the president misled them."

Well, if you want to get right down to the nitty-gritty, those who claim they were "misled" do have a credibility problem in my opinion. I don't know about you, Jonathan, but I'd prefer my President to have a fine-tuned bullshit detector.

Is it too much to expect that someone who wants to be president should be able to understand that you can doubt Bush's credibility and still agree with the end result of one of his policies?

What end result would that be, Jonathan? Iraq is far from stable, and I personally feel it's far too early to decide whether this was a success or a failure. Is this the end result I'm supposed to be happy about? Seriously though, you should not pass judgement on Dean until the end result in Iraq is clear. Take a breather Jonathan, this one’s going to last for quite some time.


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Nation-Building was founded by Aziz Poonawalla in August 2002 under the name Dean Nation. Dean Nation was the very first weblog devoted to a presidential candidate, Howard Dean, and became the vanguard of the Dean netroot phenomenon, raising over $40,000 for the Dean campaign, pioneering the use of Meetup, and enjoying the attention of the campaign itself, with Joe Trippi a regular reader (and sometime commentor). Howard Dean himself even left a comment once. Dean Nation was a group weblog effort and counts among its alumni many of the progressive blogsphere's leading talent including Jerome Armstrong, Matthew Yglesias, and Ezra Klein. After the election in 2004, the blog refocused onto the theme of "purple politics", formally changing its name to Nation-Building in June 2006. The primary focus of the blog is on articulating purple-state policy at home and pragmatic liberal interventionism abroad.