Why Oh Why Can't We Have a Better Press Corps? (Yet Another Washington Post Should Have Fired David Ignatius Long Ago Edition)
If the Washington Post wants to survive five years, it should have pulled the plug on David Ignatius long ago. Every column he writes takes a flamethrower to the shreds that are all that is left of the Post's reputation. Just sayin'.
Kevin Drum and Ezra Klein say more. Ezra Klein:
Ezra Klein: Return of the ISG: Do these people realize how they sound? Today, David Ignatius singlehandedly creates a safe, centrist ground that he can write all the dirty, hippy Democrats outside of, saying:
The Iraq debate in Washington this week is intense and angry. But as with the Palestinian conflict, the rhetorical fireworks mask the fact that there's an emerging consensus on what the final result should be. Leaders on both sides endorse the broad strategy proposed last December by the Iraq Study Group: a gradual withdrawal that shifts the American mission to training, force protection, counterterrorism and border security. That formula gets wide support from members of Congress and administration officials alike. As a senior administration official puts it, it's "where everybody agrees you want to go." The problem is getting there.
Oh lordy. You know who's not included in "everybody?" The "administration" that this "senior administration official" is part of. They, after all, not only rejected the Iraq Study Group's recommendations, but took the reverse course and increased the deployment without any concurrent shift in strategy. But that doesn't stop Ignatius from saying:
There's broad agreement on the need to put Iraq policy on a sustainable path that will gradually withdraw American forces without producing the bloodbath that frightens people like Ryan Crocker in Baghdad. But Bush and the Democrats are running out of opportunities to make it happen.
Given that the whole of Ignatius's column focuses on the wisdom of the Iraq Study Group's recommendation, no, it's not Bush and the Democrats who are missing opportunities to draw down the Iraq War. It's just Bush.
But then, that's not the sort of thing a Very Serious columnist is supposed to say, is it?
The Washington Monthly: STRAW MEN....David Ignatius today:
Getting into Iraq was President Bush's decision, and history will judge his administration harshly for its mistakes in the postwar occupation. But getting out of Iraq is now partly in the hands of the Democrats who control both houses of Congress. History will be equally unforgiving if their agitation for withdrawal results in a pell-mell retreat that causes lasting damage.
Can we please cut the crap? There are virtually no Democrats — and certainly none with any real influence — who are advocating a pell-mell retreat. But for some reason every columnist in the world seems to find it necessary to warn us against this nonexistent straw man. Why?
Those of us who want to leave want to do it in an orderly way. If the Pentagon says it will take 12 months, that's fine. 18 months? Also fine. It just needs to be real. Nobody wants to endanger any American lives by ignoring legitimate force protection issues, and I'm really, really tired of lazy writers who continually imply otherwise on no basis at all. Knock it off.
POSTSCRIPT: The rest of the column is about whether we should withdraw completely or whether we should leave a residual "training force" in Iraq. That's fine. It's a genuine argument. It would, however, be a far more genuine argument if Ignatius and others explained how the residual force actually had any chance of accomplishing anything. As Stephen Biddle persuasively argued yesterday, it's one of those things that's politically attractive but militarily untenable. In fact, I'd say it's the worst possible option available.