The Washington Post editorial board as movie critic (Dirty 'Game', 12/4/2010) is an embarrassment of riches for lovers of irony.
The editorial reminds of the Andre Gide story about a man and his dog who go to the park everyday and engage in games of checkers. The dog has considered and patient checker strategies and thoughtfully moves his pieces around the board. A passerby is positively amazed at the skills of the dog and pauses to watch the game. He marvels at the dog and tells the owner so. The owner, scoffs and indignantly says "don't be too impressed, I've beaten the dog two out of three matches."
The poor owner misses the point and so too does the Post. The dog played checkers for crying out loud whether he won or lost isn't the point. We went to war is the point and one determinative reason was WMDs in Iraq. That was what? Bad intelligence? A lie? Does it matter? The dog played checkers.
Going after Plame and Wilson's stories makes sure the spotlight is on them and not the fact that we went to war in Iraq based, at least in part, on a phony story. That's the only fact in the case of which we are certain. It was touching that the Post was concerned for the accuracy of the historical assessment of this story on behalf of President Bush.
The decision to go to war was not made by Plame and Wilson. It was made by President Bush and history will no doubt show how mistaken his judgment was and how the consequences have been tragic for American soldiers, their families, innocent civilians and the US Treasury.
Lastly, where does the Post get their information for this scolding? From the people who look bad if Plame and Wilson were right? Why should these assertions made by the Post be believed? The only possible source for the information they cite is a source who will look very bad if Plame and Wilson's claims were true. Apparently the Post has underestimated the problem of its own credibility in the matter. Many believe there was media complicity in the false story of WMDs which they all carried with little question --- like the sinking of the Maine (excuse for Spanish American War) or the Lusitania (excuse for WW I), the Gulf of Tonkin Maddox incident which it turns out never happened (excuse for Viet Nam) or the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand or any other absurd story falsely given the moral suasion to rationalize going to war. All of these stories were largely unchallenged and beaten like a drum by the media.
We don't know who to believe because our institutions, including if not especially the media, have lost credibility and the faith and trust of the American people. Hopefully the historians will get that right. We should be pulling for that checker playing dog anyway.
Cross-posted at the Center for the Study of the American Dream
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