Looking Backwards from This Week at 24, 20, 16, 12, 8, 4, 2, 1, 1/2, and 1/4 Years Ago (July 31-August 6, 2019)

David Rees: Cormac Ignatieff's "The Road": "Hello everyone! Personal message to all the New Yorkers out there: Did you read Michael Ignatieff’s essay in the the NY Times Magazine? If so, contact me ASAP to let me know you’re OK. I put your flyer up at Grand Central Station, but have heard no response. Myself, I’m just making my way out of the debilitating Level-Five Mind Fog that came from reading the thing.... Ignatieff’s 2005 NY Times Magazine essay justifying the Iraq war... said the reason the American public wanted to invade Iraq was to spread 'The Ultimate Task of Thomas Jefferson’s Dream'. (I am not making a joke. This is for real.) And, he implied, anyone who opposed the invasion of Iraq did so because they hated Thomas Jefferson— and they didn’t believe in the Ultimate Tasks of Dreams!... I was excited when I first saw this new essay: At last, Ignatieff was going to come clean about his super-duper-double-dipper errors. I expected a no-holds barred, personal excoriation. In fact, I assumed the first, last, and only sentence of the essay would be: 'Please, for the love of God, don’t ever listen to me again'. HOWEVER... The first nine-tenths of Ignatieff’s essay... is a collection of vague aphorisms and bong-poster koans. It hums with the comforting murmur of lobotomy.... Below, a smorgasbord of Ignatieff’s musings, with commentary: 'An intellectual’s responsibility for his ideas is to follow their consequences wherever they may lead. A politician’s responsibility is to master those consequences and prevent them from doing harm...' Right off the bat, he’s saying: 'It was right for me to support the Iraq war when I was an academic, because academics live in outer space on Planet Zinfandel, and play with ideas all day. But now, as a politician in a country that opposed the war, I’ll admit I screwed up, because politicians must deign to harness the wild mares of whimsy to the ox-cart of cold, calculated reality'. So, although his judgments were objectively wrong, they were contextually appropriate. Sweet! You’ve been totally 0wn3d by Michael Ignatieff! And so have all those dead Iraqis...