The Washington Post, instrumental as it was for creating the illusion of an elite consensus on invading Iraq, continues to offer its op-ed pages to the geniuses that promised us WMD's, democracy and rose gardens in Baghdad.
At the top is David Ignatius, who by the time I turned on my computer this morning, had already earned a Wanker of the Day designation by Atrios. It seems like it was only last week when I read that Bush himself claimed to be sleeping very well, despite the turmoil in Iraq, his party's mid-term election defeats, and so on. But here is Ignatius, trying to reverse the tide of opinion by claiming the president is out of denial, agonized about the loss of (American) life in Iraq, and back to being that sure-footed, if not sure-minded fellow we knew and loved from 9/12/01 to March 2003.
What gives with people like Ignatius? Is he that out of touch? Or is it that he's far too in-touch, too in-touch with the powers that be, the nation's movers and shakers, however incompetent and messiah complex-driven?
I suspect at least two forces are operative in people like Ignatius. There is first of all, his rank as Punditist and his contribution in that role to the catastrophe that is Iraq, and hence the need to change the public's opinion, or at least muddle it, on Iraq.
A second and somewhat related dynamic is the fear on the part of the Pundit class that it isn't just their reputations or access that's on the line in the success of the Bush presidency, or at least the assurance of the continuance of the elite consensus that the Bush II administration enables. The Pundit class is genuinely worried that the downward spiral in Iraq might spill-over to America, if not in outright violence, to an upsetting of the ruling power equilibrium. If things continue to disintegrate overseas, Americans might start getting uneasy, the kind of uneasy that is only partly accounted for in the turning over of Congress to the other elite party.
So Ignatius, after offering examples of disenchantedness with the administration's failure to adopt the Pundits' prescription for success in Iraq, is returning to the fold, and trying to signal to other opinion shapers the need to prop up the lame duck administration and its war efforts less their world soon resemble that of the denizens of Iraq. The duty is to get behind whatever is needed to assure the populace of at least the appearance of stability here, if not over there, whether that assurance takes the form of adopting all 79 ISG recommendations, or shelving the genial bipartisan group's wise suggestions and Escalating the conflict instead.
Which is what the other two pundits on the Wash Post's op-ed pages are recommending. Jack Keane and Frederick Kagan, members of high standing in the neo-con cabal of evil geniuses perched at the American Enterprise Institute that gave us Iraq now want the president to Decider and the public to embrace a long term "surge" of up to 30,000 more troops to drop in to Iraq for at least three more Friedman Units*. Then the war will be won.
But as Jim Henley at Unqualified Offerings notes, Keane and Kagan are offering, well, rather qualified conditions for urging the surge. They want a "surge" but insist the number of troops surging must be substantial and their stay enduring. If not, the surge will not succeed and the Pundit class will continue to be assured its dignified standing on teevee and in print for warning that if their prescriptions were not ably followed, they shouldn't be liable for the resulting mess.
But, asks Henley,
If “the surge we have” is not “the surge we’d like to have,” will Keane and Keegan call for withdrawal? Will they finally decide that enough is enough?
No. But we can rest assured that at that time, Ignatius, Friedman, Keane, Kagan, Frank Gaffney, William Kristol, and the other geniuses that gave us Iraq, will have a new vision they demand we implement and accept.