Expertology done right


George Zornick writes:

The New York Times Week in Review section yesterday dealt with the five-year anniversary of Bush's infamous flight deck victory speech by asking nine different experts to expound on "How to See This Mission Accomplished."

Many of those surveyed were directly responsible for the current situation in Iraq -- either on the ground or as policy architects. That would be a Marine infantry officer who served in Iraq; a retired general who trained the Iraqi army; L. Paul Bremer, the former presidential envoy to Iraq; and Richard Perle, formerly of the Defense Policy Board. There were also two experts from the American Enterprise Institute, Frederick Kagan and Danielle Pletka, and a few others from the Brookings Institution and the Woodrow Wilson School of Public Affairs.

None of the previously mentioned "experts" advocates any kind withdrawal for Iraq in their pieces -- that is, none of them reflects the position of the majority of the American people or the two Democratic nominees for president. The lone voice calling for withdrawal is Anthony Cordesman of the Center for Strategic and International studies, whose proposal for decreasing combat brigades from 15 to 5 "over the next few years" is still considerably less ambitious than what the people or the Democratic candidates are calling for. Do experts who advocate withdrawal -- experts who, by and large, have been right all along about the war -- have any place in the Times?

The only redeeming bit about the spread is some unintentional self-satire from the assembled experts -- like when Perle castigates those "whose knowledge of Iraq is often recent, shallow and wrong," or when Kagan advocates the continuing military occupation of a formerly sovereign country, but then says the idea of using Iraqi oil revenues to finance the occupation would introduce "a dangerous note ... into the discussion, a tinge of imperialism, in fact."

Great Baseball Songs (that aren't John Fogerty's "Centerfield"):

"Catfish" -- Bob Dylan

"Did You See Jackie Robinson Hit That Ball?" -- Natalie Cole

"A Dying Cub Fan's Last Request" -- Steve Goodman

"Say Hey (The Willie Mays Song)" -- The Treniers

"Glory Days" -- Bruce Springsteen

Lifted in part (but edited) from Paste magazine.

Correspondence Corner:

Name: John Sherman
Hometown: Moorhead, MN

I just read the Nation piece. When were the presidential debates taken away from the League of Women Voters? And why?

If we can't get Stewart and Colbert to host a debate, shouldn't they go back to the LWV?

Name: ASullivan
Hometown: Washington DC

Eric, I read the Huffo piece you linked to, and I fear you are a tad touchy. The thrust of the piece is that Sid lards his email blasts with the most scurrilous right-wing attacks on Obama, the same sort of "journalism" he decried when the subject was the Clintons. That seems to be a fair critique. Just because you're listed in a very dense paragraph describing the wide variety of folks to whom the emails are or were sent says nothing about your objectivity.

As to Col. Bateman's defense of the Pentagon program, I fear he, too, protests too much. Of course the commenters should have disclosed their conflicts of interest, and I'm willing to take his word on Gen. McCaffrey. The problem is that the Pentagon is not supposed to undertake a secret propaganda program aimed at the American electorate.

Name: Thomas Heiden
Hometown: Stratford, CT


Every Friday or so, the inestimable Mr. Pierce cooks up an imaginative way of getting people's attention to tell them how much he loves New Orleans. We need his services in this capacity.

Before I suffer an aneurysm or a breakdown or some other physical calamity born of intolerable exasperation, can he please advise the MSM that Barack Obama is running for President, not Reverend Wright? If this goes on until November, I don't think I'll be the only one they find picking straws from his hair and mumbling incoherently.

Name: Grandjester
Hometown: Meridian, ID

Funny how all these pundits got all hot and bothered by Bush in his flight suit. My impression was more of John Larroquette playing with his army men in "Stripes."

Name: John Royal
Hometown: Houston, TX

Okay, as much as it pains me to admit this, I like Indepedence Day, and I have seen it way too many times. And as much as this pains me to admit, but Joe Klein was correct -- Bill Pullman was a fighter pilot before becoming President -- I believe he was a hotshot in Iraq I. But he does suit up and take up one of the fighters in the climatic battle of ID4. That's what led to Randy Quaid's "Here I come, Mr. President" line.

And I now hang my head in shame.

And Eric would like to offer personal thanks to Eric Behrens, if he is reading this, for his labor in sending so much great music and kind words. (There was no email or return address...)

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