Friday, July 01, 2005

We need real criticism

The Guardian today unleashed its great minds on analysis of President Bush's Tuesday speech, including Simon Tisdale, who, not surprisingly, was not impressed. Unfortuantely, Tisdale's criticism's are almost entirely empty. After raising the inevitable and tired objections to Bush mentioning 9/11 and Iraq in the same breath (note to Simon - it is possible for 9/11 to have given impetus to the action against Saddam without Saddam having to have been directly involved in 9/11), Tisdale gets to his, um, substance.
As before, he offered no way back and no joint, consensual path forward.
What does this mean, "no way back"? Back to what? Is Tisdale seriously looking for a return to the status quo ante bellum? That certainly would please Saddam, but I'm not sure about anyone else.

And a joint, consensual path forward? Joint with whom? And how in the world does a single leader offer a “consensual” solution to something? Tisdale’s criticism is devoid of substance.
Oblivious to the inherent contradiction, he vowed to defeat a weakened,
immoral enemy that was simultaneously ubiquitous and on the attack.
The only potential contradiction here is between a weakened enemy and a ubiquitous one – surely there is nothing about a weakened, immoral enemy that precludes his ability to attack. But Bush, of course, never said anything about the enemy being ubiquitous. Indeed, his rhetoric – “…defeat them abroad before they attack us at home” – is premised upon the enemy not being ubiquitous. Tisdale just invented it. Another empty criticism.
There would be no timetable for a withdrawal, he said, despite claims that the American presence is the main problem. Nor would there be an unpopular, but arguably necessary, increase in troop numbers until Iraq's post-Saddam institutions were secured.
This is, of course, Tisdale trying to have it both ways. How can an increase in the US troop presence be “necessary” if it is the American presence that is “the main problem”? But Tisdale hides behind weasel words. It’s not he who thinks the American presence is the problem, of course, it is “claims” from the ether which suggest it. And Tisdale can’t say for sure that troop increases are necessary, only that it is “arguable” that they are. Not only is Tisdale’s critique incoherent, it is cowardly.

Then Tisdale even has the gall to claim that it is Bush’s advisors who are fostering domestic political hostility.
Off-stage, Mr Bush's chief adviser, Karl Rove, was busily drawing divisive domestic battlelines, lambasting Democrats and other "liberals" who he said wanted "to offer therapy and understanding for our attackers".
Is it possible that Tisdale is so astonishingly ignorant of American politics that he is unaware of what the Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean has been saying in the last 6 months? Dean has at various times called Republicans “evil”, “corrupt”, and “brain dead”, and claimed that Republican voters have “never made an honest living in their lives.” But Tisdale would have you believe that it is Rove who is drawing divisive domestic battlelines? If ignorance is not to blame for this ludicrous judgement, then surely it must be contempt for the intelligence of his audience.

Ultimately what Tisdale finds “most telling” is that Bush just won’t grovel for forgiveness for what Tisdale perceives as his sins.
Most tellingly, Mr Bush once again refused to admit any mistakes before, during or after the 2003 invasion.There would be no raking over the past, Dan Bartlett, his communications director, insisted. In other words, Mr Bush does wars. He does freedom and he does democracy, as defined in Washington. But he does not do apologies.
Does such adolescent whining really pass for incisive political analysis these days at The Guardian? I mean really. In the first place, the failure to itemize in a speech one’s missteps is not a “refusal” to admit mistakes. (And to do so would be stupid politics.) Secondly, can Tisdale name a single politician in history who has “apologized” for undertaking an ongoing policy? The only thing “telling” about Tisdale’s observation is that Bush is a normal politician…and Tisdale is a petty ankle-biter.

Which is unfortunate. There are certainly aspects of the current situation which are worth debating. For instance, should Bush set a timetable to begin withdrawal? He certainly has a point that, to do so could embolden the insurgents to simply hold out. On the other hand, it is also true that, in the absence of a known time at which the cord will be cut, the Iraqi security forces could have little incentive to stop relying on US troops. A discussion of the relative merits of the two strategies would be interesting and could be enlightening. If there are alternative strategies to Bush's "hold the course", I wouldn't mind hearing them.

But unfortuantely that doesn't seem to be in the cards. Ironically, despite the harping that Bush has "no solutions" to the "disaster" in Iraq, it is critics such as Tisdale that are avoiding a substantive discussion of where we go from here, while remaining content to offer up empty criticism, petty political sniping, and demands for meaningless apologies for perceived sins of the past.

5 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Scott, just discovered your blog and am very impressed. I loved the way you tore this guy Tisdale's article apart. I used to get the Guardian years ago but now I'm just sickened by it's anti-US and anti-Israel bias. Keep on doing what you're doing - blogs like this are important in pointing out the rabid anti-americanism that the Guardian, Independent and the BBC are shoving down British throats.

12:24 AM  
Anonymous Mark said...

Karl Rove had a certain justification for saying what he said. I talked about it before in one of my posts. Rove does paint with too broad a brush when he said that "liberals just wanted to offer therapy to the terrorists". There were those on the Democratic side who knew better, but there were plenty on the far left, like MoveOn.org, International ANSWER, and Code Pink who wanted exactly that. And there's no denying that there were some in the Democratic Party who wanted it as well. Nevertheless the comments hit the Democrats where it hurt and I think that in some small measure they deserved it.

There hasn't been an acknowledgement by the Democrats that there are some in their party who don't know what the hell they're talking about, but who are influencing the party's direction, and should not be doing so. They should take solace in the saying, "Our critics are our friends, for they point out our weaknesses and our faults so they can be addressed."

5:03 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Having a timetable to withdraw before the Iraqis are ready would be a disaster. Does anyone remember the "Vietnamization" policy of the early 1970s? Anyone remember what happened when the US abandoned the South Vietnamese? Anyone rememeber the Boat people and the "re-education" camps?

5:51 AM  
Blogger Zipporah32 said...

Lovin' it over here in your blog space. I'm a conservative. I'll be stopping by here often.

6:45 AM  
Anonymous dan m said...

The Guardian's hive mind isn't just empty and devoid of substance or, to be blunt, dumb. The real danger is far worse -- the Brit left's flight from reality into The Guardian's sad world of editorial paranoia and Orwellian stereotypes leads to all kinds of evil (and yes, how they hate that word).

Actually, how could it be otherwise? If they harmed only themselves, who would care -- but they don't. No magic here, you simply reap what you sow and the fallout goes everywhere.

The harm done to the British people and the Atlantic alliance, already great, is growing. Step aside from the usual US supects in the MSM and the ivory tower and you will find Americans of all types have had a belly full of whiny Brits carping from the sidelines. Does anyone seriously contend that the US will ever again spill blood for Europe or that Britain is somehow exempt or that the need will never again arise? Or that The Guardian is somehow not a factor?

The question is what to do. From an American perspective, seems to me the right course is to do absolutely nothing that could be seen as intervention but everything possible to help the hapless Brits help themselves. In the case of your blog, that means keep on collating and commenting, as you do so well. In other words, pile it up and let the chips fall.

10:45 AM  

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