Two Hail Marys
Plus: WaPo wobbles, sort of, maybe.
Eilperin Gets Results! (Republicans have pulled the "Christmas Tree" bill she publicized.) ... 11:20 P.M.
Mine the Pollacks? There's one part of Clintonite Iraq hawk Kenneth Pollack's Q & A with Josh Marshall that I don't understand, In the interview, Pollack outlines, without a lot of detail, his view "that if you could have turned back time we could have handled this a lot better than we actually did. But we are where we are" and it's "now or never. " He prefers now. Then he says:
You've heard me say any number of times that I wish they hadn't pursued this route with the UN. But, again, when I wrote the book they were in the mode of 'We don't need the UN. We've got all the authority we need to go ahead and do this.' And instead they recognized that that was a mistake. And they have gone to the UN. Unfortunately the route they took may have cost them as much support as it built them. Nevertheless, I appreciate the fact that they at least made the effort. [Emphasis added.]
So was Pollack for going to the U.N. or not? If it would have been a "mistake" not fo go to the U.N., what was wrong about the "route" Bush took? Presumably Pollack objects to the administration getting suckered into what he calls the "inspections trap," in which Saddam perpetually postpones war by showing enough last-minute cooperation to mollify our U.N. allies. But was there a way to go to the U.N. and not get suckered into the inspections trap? If so, I'd like to hear it. ... Maybe alert kf readers can explain to me why Pollack isn't trying to have it both ways here. ...
P.S.: The prescriptive conclusion of Pollack's now-totemic book doesn't urge Bush to go to the U.N.. It's more like the opposite -- Pollack strongly questions the ability of the U.N. to solve the Iraq problem. He merely says "we would do well to work hard to try to bring as many European, Asian, and other allies on board as possible." ...
P.P.S.: Like Slate's Chris Suellentrop, Marshall reports that "In his book, The Threatening Storm, Pollack advocates a very different approach than the one the president has pursued." He does? You coulda fooled me! (One exception: Pollack does caution in his book against invasion until we "reduce the bedlam in the Middle East to lower levels," though he doesn't say what he would do if the bedlam resisted such efforts. He told Marshall he thinks "the administration refused to really engage on getting negotiations resumed.") ... 9:47 P.M.
Ken Auchincloss: It's very upsetting to hear that Ken Auchincloss of Newsweek has died at the unfair age of 65. He was a graceful, exuberant man who made those who worked for and with him feel they were part of a wonderful profession. He was also a confident, independent mind, which is not what you'd expect to thrive in the culture of newsmagazines, where the goal is often to say what everyone else is saying (but a little "smarter") at the precise moment they're saying it. I'd always figured it was because he'd stepped off the Newsweek fast track that he often saw things in a more sensible, even scholarly, longer-term perspective -- but Devin Gordon's appreciation suggests this is just the way he was. A small example: I remember a panel discussion in around 1988 -- a dog and pony show for advertisers, I think -- when people were wondering why President Reagan had lost his legislative mojo. Was it Iran Contra? James Baker's departure as chief of staff? Don Regan's personality? Nancy's astrologer? Why wasn't the Gipper's old magic working? etc. Auchincloss was the only one who pointed out that this was so much hothouse newsmagazine birdsong -- Reagan was having trouble because the Republicans had lost their majority the Senate. Duh! Nobody else thought of it -- it was too big a point, and because it wasn't going to change in the next week (and didn't involve insider tick-tock) there was no payoff for acknowledging it. ... 2:22 P.M.
Late-breaking building: The best memorials (Washington Monument, Gateway Arch, Vietnam Veteran's Memorial) are simple awesome forms -- and they don't need museums! James Ingo Freed's Air Force Memorial looks like it meets the test (and it should so terrify pilots flying into nearby Reagan National that they'll stay very alert). Ben Forgey is appropriately enthusiastic. ... 12:16 A.M.
Photograph of Arnold Schwarzenegger on the Slate home page from Reuters.