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Hullabaloo


Monday, October 31, 2005

 
Krugman

Sing it:
Let me be frank: it has been a long political nightmare. For some of us, daily life has remained safe and comfortable, so the nightmare has merely been intellectual: we realized early on that this administration was cynical, dishonest and incompetent, but spent a long time unable to get others to see the obvious. For others - above all, of course, those Americans risking their lives in a war whose real rationale has never been explained - the nightmare has been all too concrete.

[SNIP]

So the Bush administration has lost the myths that sustained its mojo, and with them much of its power to do harm. But the nightmare won't be fully over until two things happen.

First, politicians will have to admit that they were misled. Second, the news media will have to face up to their role in allowing incompetents to pose as leaders and political apparatchiks to pose as patriots.

It's a sad commentary on the timidity of most Democrats that even now, with Lawrence Wilkerson, Colin Powell's former chief of staff, telling us how policy was "hijacked" by the Cheney-Rumsfeld "cabal," it's hard to get leading figures to admit that they were misled into supporting the Iraq war. Kudos to John Kerry for finally saying just that last week.

And as for the media: these days, there is much harsh, justified criticism of the failure of major news organizations, this one included, to exert due diligence on rationales for the war. But the failures that made the long nightmare possible began much earlier, during the weeks after 9/11, when the media eagerly helped our political leaders build up a completely false picture of who they were.

So the long nightmare won't really be over until journalists ask themselves: what did we know, when did we know it, and why didn't we tell the public?
It's hard to believe how isolated a voice Krugman was from, say, about Spring 2000 to about January, 2004. There was all but nowhere else in the mainstream press where Bush's total absence of presidential qualifications, his incompetence, and his lack of personal integrity were being honestly discussed.

And no one believed him. He was ignored and ridiculed by fellow journalists as shrill, he went mostly unread by mainstream politicians. He was disbelieved by ordinary readers including literally all of my milieu, who seemed desperate to believe that Bush - whose negligence and incompetence were crystal clear to me even when the towers were still smoking and the networks were overwhelmed with ominous reports and rumours - would actually save and protect us from the horrible fate that befell our fellow New Yorkers.

So now, if Krugman wants to tell the country and especially his colleagues, "I told you so," he deserves to. He told us exactly so. When no one else dared.

Paul, I owe you. Big time.

(Edited slightly after original posting.)

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