links for 2007-05-29
Matthew Yglesias's China Watch

Why Oh Why Can't We Have a Better Press Corps? (Washington Post Edition)

Q: Is there any level of stupidity which a Washington Post time-server's column can sink that will get it pulled from the morning paper?

A: No, as Richard Cohen's column this morning demonstrates.

Five years, Washington Post, five years unless you repent.

New Pairodimes makes the catch:

New Pairodimes: Richard Cohen of the Washington Post today has topped himself. By topping, I mean bottomed out. But in Cohen's world words are malleable. If you want to, you can just make s--- up, and still get paid as an expert.

Years ago, someone coined the term "neoliberal." I was never sure what it meant, and it has since fallen into disuse, but whatever the case, I'd like to revive (and mangle) the term and apply it -- brace yourself -- to George W. Bush. He's more liberal than you might think.

Neo-Liberal must mean something like a liberal. Let's call Bush that and see if it flies. He is at 30% in the polls. Conservatives will appreciate not being tainted with him, and it will make liberals mad at me!

You recoil, I know. After all, the conventional wisdom is that Bush is the most conservative of all presidents, an advocate of limited government, minimal taxes and, when it comes to the quintessentially liberal concern with civil liberties, the man who gave us the twin black eyes of Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo. It's an appalling record.

It's a liberal abuse of power. See where I am going with this? No? Well neither do I!...

[L]et's take a look at the much-mocked notion of diversity. Bill Clinton was widely berated for his effort to have an administration that looked like America -- women, African Americans, Hispanics, you name it. Whether by design or not, Bush has also managed that feat. A female education secretary is one thing, but a national security adviser -- the uber-macho post -- is something else, and that went first to Condi Rice. And over at Justice, Bush chose Alberto Gonzales, the son of Hispanic migrant workers and, incidentally, a lawyer with the singular gift of forgetting meetings he attended. (In private practice, did he forget to bill?)... I am not suggesting that any of these appointees -- including Bush's former White House counsel, Harriet Miers -- are what is pejoratively known as affirmative action hires. I am suggesting, though, that Bush has not only diversified his Cabinet and staff but obviously got enormous satisfaction in doing so. You only have to listen to Bush talk about the virtues of immigration -- another liberal sentiment -- or his frequent mention of the "soft bigotry of low expectations" to appreciate that the president is a sentimental softie, what was once dismissively called a "mushy-headed liberal."... Allow me to make the case that this is also true when it comes to Iraq. I acknowledge that the war is a catastrophic mistake and was incompetently managed. But... one reason for our involvement was an attempt to do some good -- rid the world of a really bad guy and make life better for Iraqis.... Bush's neoliberal instincts have come a cropper across the board. His appointees have too often been incompetent, and his well-intentioned education act is underfunded. But it is with Iraq that real and long-term damage has been done. For years to come, his war will be cited to smother any liberal impulse in American foreign policy -- to further discredit John F. Kennedy's vow to "pay any price, bear any burden . . . to assure the survival and the success of liberty." We shall revert to this thing called "realism," which is heartless and cynical, no matter what its other virtues. The debacle of Iraq has cost us -- and others -- plenty in lives. But in the end, it will cost us our soul as well...

If anybody is interested, Richard Cohen could have discovered in less than two minutes that the term "neoliberalism" was coined to describe the Washington Monthly's Charlie Peters and his posse, who wanted a reality-based liberalism, an effective liberalism, a liberalism that sought truth from facts and that proposed policies not because they resonated with a liberal interest group but because they were good for the country and the world. See Ezra Klein and Charlie Peters.

Five years, Washington Post. Five years.