Owning Up

Owning Up

Owning Up

The latest chatter in cyberspace.
Dec. 14 2005 6:33 PM

Owning Up

Bloggers were quick to jump on the president's acknowledgement today that much of the prewar intelligence on Iraq was faulty or false. They're also speculating on the prospects for tomorrow's elections, as well as waiting for the cows to come home on Brokeback Mountain.

Owning up: Speaking at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, President Bush told a group of foreign policy experts, "It is true that much of the intelligence turned out to be wrong. As president I am responsible for the decision to go into Iraq." Unsurprisingly, his admission drew either yawns or claps from supporters, and references to hell freezing over and assorted imagery from the Book of Revelation *  from detractors.

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Moderate conservative Josh Poulson at Josh's Weblog welcomes the concession but wonders: "What intelligence was wrong? Certainly specifics on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction programs, but there were material breaches of the treaty that stopped the first Iraq war. We found enriched uranium, chemical warheads, long-range rockets that could reach Israel and other material." Meanwhile, righty Timothy Sandefur at Positive Liberty sees Bush's self-criticism as quashing a persistent complaint about him: "So much for the notion that the President has 'never acknowledged he has made a mistake' and so forth. But, acknowledging we were wrong is a dangerous business because we must not say we are wrong about things that we are right about, lest we hamper our attempts to do right in the future."

However, White House critic JB at Free Press Blog fills in a lacuna of Bush's mea culpa: "Of course, it would be nice if he also talked about all the intelligence that didn't support their predetermined position that was ignored, but that's probably not going to happen." And war skeptic Rick at Discuss It wonders why Bush relied on WMD intelligence in the first place: "Everyone knew that Saddam Hussein was a threat—not only to us, but to his own people. Everyone knew he was a dictator capable of killing his own citizens to get what he wanted. Everyone knew he was evil, pure and simple. So why smokescreen what we already knew about the monster and his regime and make up some cockamamey story just to get what he wanted?"

Liberal expat to Asia Brian Mathes is cynical about the timing, but more optimistic about the dwindling of executive hubris. "Whether or not this is politically motivated (and of course, it is) I think it's a positive sign that the administration is losing some of its arrogance and becoming willing to make simple compromises in terms of fixing and leaving Iraq," he writes.

To read the president's speech, click here. Read more blog posts here.

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Iraq the Vote: Red and blue give way to purple as the dominant color in cyberspace. Bloggers—mostly Iraqis—weigh in on the significance of tomorrow's elections, what it took to get to this point, and rumored attempts by Iranians to influence the outcome.

Hassan Kharrufa at in-country site No End But Victory describes his plan for Thursday: "Of course I will not go vote fist thing in the morning." I will wait for at least 10 AM, to see how things are, and to be honest, if they were messy, I will not go vote, sad to say. So if I go vote tomorrow, I promise you will see my ink stained finger again." Mohammed at Iraq The Model strikes a similar chord.  "With joy, worry, fear and hope I await tomorrow," he writes, noting that stoicism and patience remain the cornerstones of Mesopotamian democracy: "It is unfair to consider time our enemy; yes, we are a bit slow in absorbing the new reality but do not blame us for being slow; we have lived long enough under the reign of a devil who filled our ears and minds with wrong beliefs."Jeneva at Yes, I am crazy. Next question, please explainsthat her Iraqi husband and one of their daughters will be casting an absentee ballot from Nashville tomorrow: "[B]ut I am holding back complete excitement because everything there is on such a critical fence top at this point as well as in the coming days."

Commenting on stories that Iran had made efforts to rig the elections, human rights-watcher "lawhawk" at a blog for all quips, "It is still possible that the Iranians did try to get ballot stuffing into Iraq, but the question is why bother doing it the hard way. Getting the dead to vote early and often is so much easier. Just ask Chicago Democrats." And David Price at the classically liberal Dean's Blog is also optimistic: "Over the past year, we've gradually become so used to the idea of Iraqi democracy that it's easy to forget that there was a sizable block of opinion that said what's happening now was a pipe dream."

Read more about the Iraq elections.

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Go tell it on the mountain: With Ang Lee's Brokeback Mountain, a love story about gay cowboys, garnering the most Golden Globe nominations this year, bloggers range from being excited, bored, nervous, and touched. Absent are the elevated tones of a kulturkampf.

Slate's own Mickey Kaus posits that if box office receipts aren't as lavish as the critics have been, it's for good, meat-and-potatoes reason: "If heterosexual men in heartland America don't flock to see Brokeback Mountain it's not because they're bigoted. It's because they're heterosexual."

Sasha Stone at Oscarwatch thinks mainstream acceptance of the film will attend the small, sculpted men: "Brokeback Mountain has a lot going for it. And whatever drawbacks it has at this point are the same drawbacks other Oscar winners have had: irrational fear that it might not go over well. Once it wins the Globe, it will firm up its place as frontrunner."

Yet comparing two divergent posters for the film—one featuring Jake Gyllenhaal and Heath Ledger, the other featuring Gyllenhaal, Anne Hathaway, and their newborn child—Bill Nienhuis at Pundit Guy observes a curious hetero-genizing trend: "Pro-gay movies won't bring in the hundreds of millions of dollars needed by distributors like Focus Features. But, a love story which ends up unifying the good ol' American family unit sure will. That's money in the bank, and that's why Brokeback Mountain has been de-gayified."

Read more posts about Brokeback Mountain.

Got a question or comment? E-mail todaysblogs@slate.com.

Correction, Dec. 15: The article originally and incorrectly identified the final book of the bible as the Book of Revelations. (Return  to the corrected sentence.)