Semi-Daily Journal Archive

The Blogspot archive of the weblog of J. Bradford DeLong, Professor of Economics and Chair of the PEIS major at U.C. Berkeley, a Research Associate of the National Bureau of Economic Research, and former Deputy Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Treasury.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Why Oh Why Can't We Have a Better Press Corps? (Yes, It's Another Fred Hiatt of the Washington Post Edition)

Fred Hiatt--the man who has done more than anybody else to destroy the credibility and the honor of the Washington Post with his mendacious and obsequious toadying to George W. Bush--appears to finally realize that George W. Bush and his dwindling band of flatterers don't have all the answers:

Fred Hiatt - A New Mideast, or Wishful Thinking? - washingtonpost.com: [T]hings get a bit more complicated than Rice in her fluency makes them sound, because the forces of moderation -- the "mainstream actors," as she calls them -- are hardly all democratic, and the fruits of democracy are hardly all moderate. The good guys, in her view, include dictatorships (not her word) such as Egypt and Saudi Arabia, while democratic victors include extremist actors such as Hamas in the Palestinian territory and Moqtada al-Sadr in Iraq.

It grows even more complicated when Rice attempts to fit the neat strategic frame of moderation vs. extremism over the mess her administration has helped create in Iraq. Rice says the United States must encourage Shiite, Sunni and Kurdish leaders of the "more moderate center" to work together and to isolate and move against their respective militias. But what if those parties see each other as the enemy, and each value their own militia or terrorists as means of pressuring the other?

Rice is determined to see "real advantages for the United States" in the mess of today's Mideast -- a "new and much more favorable strategic context in the Middle East."... But is she seeing something that Baker and Hamilton missed -- or something that isn't there? The administration's credibility for such visions is near zero, and justifiably so, given its record of wishful thinking. Rice... [said that Bush had] understood even [before the invasion of Iraq] that the democracy-building alternative would be difficult.

But then why did they not share that with the public? And why did they fail so abjectly and repeatedly to prepare for the difficulties? Why, even now, does the president seem to be re-creating the conditions for the infighting that plagued his first term, hiring a defense secretary who seems much closer to Baker than to Rice in his view of the world?

You can't help but be impressed as you listen to Rice discourse on how the region has changed and why the old approaches won't work. You feel less certain, when she's finished, that she or her boss have come up with any alternatives that will.

He hasn't yet shed all of his obsequious toadying tics. I know a great many people who can help but be impressed, and are not, by listening to Condi Rice discourse. And almost all of his questions should be statements.

But the signs are there. After seven years of total denial of reality, Fred Hiatt is showing the first signs of becoming shrill. Only the first signs, but it is a step.

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