October 20, 2003

More Mirrors of Wildernesses

Tom Maguire is spinning unlikely theories about the VPW affair in this this and nearby posts. His theories are unlikely. But I am becoming convinced that all theories are unlikely. Why does Ashcroft want to taint the investigation so that if it fails he'll be thought to have taken a dive? Why does Bush want to have a White House staff whom the intelligence community loathes--rather than clean his own house? Why was the White House so confident it would find WMDs in Iraq--so confident up until a month ago--when it had no hard intelligence at all?

I mean, total complete idiocy and comprehensive craven corruption can't be the underlying story, can it?

Posted by DeLong at October 20, 2003 08:55 PM | TrackBack

Comments

I know you're being, um, ironic, Brad, but have you read Sy Hersh's story on Bush intelligence on WMDs yet?

It's all part of the pattern where Bush doesn't read news and depends upon his "objective" staff to tell him like it is. It all makes sense now, doesn't it?

Posted by: Gary Farber on October 20, 2003 09:18 PM

Whoops. Put link here. Oh. Crap. You don't allow html. I always don't get that. What's the point, besides pissing people off? http://amygdalagf.blogspot.com/2003_10_19_amygdalagf_archive.html#106669228542408160

Posted by: Gary Farber on October 20, 2003 09:41 PM

Hmm. 9:18 to 9:41. That's not too much time trying to get a comment to post, is it?

Sorry. Feel free -- and, indeed, I urge you -- to delete the duplicates.

(I'll try to give this thirty minutes to post.)

Posted by: Gary Farber on October 20, 2003 09:47 PM

Their bald faces lies remind me of one of Groucho Marx's famous lines:

"Who are you gonna believe, me or your lyin' eyes?"

However, reading Sy Hersh's New Yorker article today (http://newyorker.com/fact/content/?031027fa_fact) also reminded me that groupthink and ideological rigidity can be easily mistaken for stupidity/corruption.

i.e. it's equally likely that, just as with the Iraq tragedy, that on the domestic front they're sitting in the White House drinking each others' KoolAid (Cheney, Rumsfeld, Bolton and Rice, with Bush ignorantly rubber stamping whatever they tell him), ignoring inconvenient facts and advice from outside non-true-believers in favor of those in accord with their worldview.

If this hypothesis is true, and it is very much in agreement with the facts re: their domestic and foreign policy, it is MUCH scarier than simple stupidity/corruption, as it has the potential to produce even more fundamentally irrational behaviour. This touches on Brad's repeated question re:where are the adults in the Republican party. Since the entire senior administration and senior congressional leadership is composed of KoolAid drinkers, and major media is in thrall to the adminstration via their corporate owners' pursuit of tax favors, it's not clear to me if there's anyone who can rein them in even beyond the next election.

For example, suppose it looks like they're going to lose the next presidential election, but not congress (due to DeLay sponsored gerrymandering), and they ram more tax cuts through together with a pay-as you go law mandating a balanced budget but forbidding tax increases. With a Republican congress to block any tax increases, they could do another 2 years worth of damage even if they lose the White House

Moreover, given the voting behaviour of the sheep-like electorate in CA and AL, the odds favour the sheep getting the shearing of their freaking lives over the next four years.

Posted by: raidman2 on October 20, 2003 09:57 PM

Oh, good, that only took about ten minutes. Whew. No patience required!

Posted by: Gary Farber on October 20, 2003 09:57 PM

Their bald faces lies remind me of one of Groucho Marx's famous lines:

"Who are you gonna believe, me or your lyin' eyes?"

However, reading Sy Hersh's New Yorker article today (http://newyorker.com/fact/content/?031027fa_fact) also reminded me that groupthink and ideological rigidity can be easily mistaken for stupidity/corruption.

i.e. it's equally likely that, just as with the Iraq tragedy, that on the domestic front they're sitting in the White House drinking each others' KoolAid (Cheney, Rumsfeld, Bolton and Rice, with Bush ignorantly rubber stamping whatever they tell him), ignoring inconvenient facts and advice from outside non-true-believers in favor of those in accord with their worldview.

If this hypothesis is true, and it is very much in agreement with the facts re: their domestic and foreign policy, it is MUCH scarier than simple stupidity/corruption, as it has the potential to produce even more fundamentally irrational behaviour. This touches on Brad's repeated question re:where are the adults in the Republican party. Since the entire senior administration and senior congressional leadership is composed of KoolAid drinkers, and major media is in thrall to the adminstration via their corporate owners' pursuit of tax favors, it's not clear to me if there's anyone who can rein them in even beyond the next election.

For example, suppose it looks like they're going to lose the next presidential election, but not congress (due to DeLay sponsored gerrymandering), and they ram more tax cuts through together with a pay-as you go law mandating a balanced budget but forbidding tax increases. With a Republican congress to block any tax increases, they could do another 2 years worth of damage even if they lose the White House

Moreover, given the voting behaviour of the sheep-like electorate in CA and AL, the odds favour the sheep getting the shearing of their freaking lives over the next four years.

Posted by: raidman2 on October 20, 2003 09:58 PM

Oh, good, that only took about ten minutes. Whew. No patience required!

Posted by: Gary Farber on October 20, 2003 10:02 PM

Gary,

I don't think you have to wait for the confirmation to come back. Post, wait ten seconds, or less, and move on.

Very little web software can detect that you've grown bored and wandered away mid-post, and so it will post your message and finally take an error only when it finds it can't write its confirmation back to you.

I'm gonna post this, count to five and walk away.

Posted by: jerry on October 21, 2003 12:09 AM

Yep.

Posted by: jerry on October 21, 2003 12:09 AM

That's worked for me. If I'm posting in a separate comments window, I hit 'post', wait a few seconds, and kill the window. If I'm in one-article-at-a-time viewing mode, I hit 'post', wait a few seconds, and click the link to go to the next article.

Posted by: Barry on October 21, 2003 04:19 AM

And that worked.

Back to the article - on Ashcroft's judgement in playing with fire (not handing this investigation off to an independent prosecutor):

So far, this administration has gotten away with almost everything that it did, in terms of how the American people and the mass media see it. IMHO, it's due to a combination of GOP media influence, control of Congress, the lack of a shrilly partisan major newspaper (to match the WSJ), an underveloped 'think tank' industry, and 9/11.

Since people tend to confuse luck with skill, it's quite reasonable for them to assume that they can BS this
away. And given the current set-up described above, they are in a much stronger position than Clinton would be, or Bush I, or Reagan.

In addition, the clear theme of this administration has been that they are the moral, responsible, adults in charge, unlike the Evul Librul PC Draft-Dodging Unpatriotic Atheistic Commie^H^H^H^H^H Islamofascist-symps of the Clinton administration. Bush lives on the fact that a majority of the American people don't look behind the curtain, and don't even remember that there is one. The minute that people look at one Bush scandal and take it seriously, the rest of the administration's actions become clear.

Look at Tacitus' and Drezner's reactions to the Plame affair. They were revolted, and Dan pointed out that this said very bad things about the administration (if they're willing to break the law and damage national security to hurt a man who told the truth, what would they do in more serious matters?).

So the Bush strategy is to never apologize. Given that starting point (and never forgetting the strong position that they're in), conducting a potemkin investigation makes sense. Their goals are probably to buy months of time, in hopes that other news will replace this, and to make it 'too complicated' (quoting Instapundit), to help their apologists spin this as no big deal.

Posted by: Barry on October 21, 2003 04:31 AM

In judging Ashcroft's behavior, we are trying to assess his motives. Now, that is completely (?) illigitimate as a form or argumentation, but it isn't so bad as an attempt to understand. Whose opinion is important to Ashcroft? My guess is that he values the opinion of people like himself, people who view the world the way he does. Having the rest of the world think you rigged an investigation matters, I'd guess, than having a class of people who "matter" think you did the right thing. And since that class is defined by just such issues as what they think about jiggering the investigation, Ashcroft is going to end up thinking he did the right thing.

Ain't that half the fun of being an ideologue?

Posted by: K Harris on October 21, 2003 05:30 AM

The Administration has the wagons circled--it's sounding, feeling more and more like Nixon days. They've made a number of astoundingly bad judgments in economic policy, foreign policy, social policy, environmental policy, and now even some Republicans are complaining aloud. I vote for "idiocy", "comprehensive craven corruption",--and a growing sense of panic, of the floor opening under you... Throwing anybody overboard would demoralize the rest in a shrinking circle. And there's always the chance that somebody who knows something will start squalking about ineptitudes and culpabilities...

Posted by: Lee A. on October 21, 2003 09:33 AM

Regarding this:

"I mean, total complete idiocy and comprehensive craven corruption can't be the underlying story, can it?"

I hope you're being ironic or melodramatic in your reaction, because OF COURSE it is, has been since Day One. And it's much, much worse than that, because the people involved are psychotic true believers.

This is why I keep thinking that so many folks with the multiple degrees, the big jobs, the published books, and the financial & psychological investment in the current system just don't get it ... We are not dealing with people who can be reasoned with. These are the baddest bad asses any of us has ever known. They even plan to permanently rig the election machinery so they will stay in power forever.

The unthinkable has already occurred.

Posted by: John H. Farr on October 21, 2003 09:54 AM

Speaking of idiocy and the Hersh article, has anyone read deep in enough to catch the point that retired CIA officers, sore about the misuses of intelligence, cooked up the Niger data?

Hersh underplays this perfectly deadpan, but this is the sort of thing that causes Administrations to go nuclear. The Bush White House has been caught in an idiocy, it knows the CIA knows who has been caught, every crooked analyst knows that s/he has been caught, and it's time to go to the mattresses.

Posted by: Charles on October 21, 2003 12:19 PM
Post a comment