What was Teddy thinking?

A mostly political Weblog.
Jan. 31 2005 6:39 AM

What Was Teddy Thinking?

Explaining the Dems' bizarre behavior.

(Continued from Page 8)

Monday January 17, 2005

Jack Shafer explains why Marjorie Williams was the best profiler around. She usually destroyed her subjects (e.g., Richard Darman, Patricia Duff) by finding some deep and true flaw that everybody else missed. Thank God she's not writing about me, you thought. She was a moral force, a modest soul, a wise friend and a brilliant presence. One of my proudest unintentional accomplishments was accidentally introducing her to her husband, my colleague Timothy Noah. (O.K., they would have met anyway. Washington is a small town that way.) They have both been heroes of mine through Marjorie's wildly unfair illness. She died on Sunday, and I suppose she would want us all to be keeping our chins up and eyes dry, but we are failing. ... WaPo editorializes here, Paul Glastris writes about her here, and there is a page of remembrances here. A memorial service will be held Tuesday, January 25th, at 11:00 A.M., at the Washington National Cathedral. ... Update: Marc Fisher, Joel Achenbach, David von Drehle, and Eric Alterman. ... MoreDavid Corn. ... 11:29 P.M.

Kevin Drum notes that Andrew Sullivan has now more or less admitted that his strident, belittling cheerleading for the war in Iraq was wrong. But you have to look carefully! It's buried in a discussion of post-war planning, where Sullivan writes:

I'd say it's obvious that Shinseki was correct [in saying we needed more troops]. Should we have gone to war under the circumstances then prevailing? Probably not. Given the lack of urgency with regard to Saddam's WMDs (yes, this is hindsight, but so is all of this), we obviously should have waited.

Good to see a clear answer. But, as Drum argues, if this is what Sullivan now thinks shouldn't he  apologize to those--not just Hans Blix, but maybe, say, Howard Dean**--who didn't need hindsight to see what he now sees?

**e.g., here's Sullivan on Dean, Oct. 12, 2003: "He would have left Saddam in place and hoped that the nightmare of terrorists with Saddam-provided WMDS wouldn't take place. After 9/11, I consider that an act of gross irresponsibility." [Emph. added] ...

P.S.:Heather Mac Donald replies  to Marty Lederman's critique of her article on torture. She also  responds to Sullivan's exegisis of Lederman's critque of her article. ... And Sullivan responds to Mac Donald's response, prompting Mac Donald to write a further response. ... I tend to think that a) Mac Donald defends the Bush administration's rules on torture more than what actually happened to prisoners in our custody, which was disgusting and disastrous and needs explaining, but b) Sullivan's attempt to find a blazing arrow from the Bush's legal rulings to the abuses is surprisingly incomplete . Here he is in the New York Times:

 [I]t seems unmistakable from these documents that decisions made by the president himself and the secretary of defense contributed to confusion, vagueness and disarray, which, in turn, led directly to abuse and torture ...

That's not an especially blazing arrow, in my book--the President is guilty of "contributing" to "confusion, vagueness and disarray."  Elsewhere in the article, Sullivan writes:

Whether random bad apples had picked up these techniques from hearsay or whether these practices represented methods authorized by commanders grappling with ambiguous directions from Washington is hard to pin down from the official reports. [Emph. added]

Well, if "random bad apples had picked up these techniques from hearsay," that would be a point for Mac Donald's attempt to debunk the  "torture narrative" that pins the blame on Bush and his lawyers, no? ... P.P.S.: Please don't forget that Sullivan was for the Iraq war and Mac Donald was against it. [Are you suggesting that these positions might have influenced their respective views on the prisoner abuse?-ed In Sullivan's case, yes. A basketball fan could label it a "make-up call."] ...  9:30 P.M.