Frank Rich Has The Day Off

Which is too bad, because I needed him today, considering the disconnect between facts and history and contributors to the New York Times Op-Ed page.

I’m not interested in claims of liberal or conservative media bias – they are essentially meaningless score keeping and disconnected from much of reality. The Times is a good example – it has a bias in favor of The Establishment. It’s the national news organ of The Establishment, and has been for decades. And while that can be frustrating to experience, it’s valuable to know what The Establishment is thinking, or as is frequently the case, not-thinking. In fact, it’s amazing how deeply lost The Establishment is in a clotted, solipsistic set of ‘ideas.’ Because they don’t have any ideas, they only have personalities.

One example of this are the stories about how Obama is abandoning his ideas of change, proven by his prospective cabinet appointments. This is true of the only unit of measure is personalities. Of course that’s an incredibly shallow and intellectually bankrupt way of seeing things. After eight years in which the dominant political idea about government is that it should be used to enrich a tiny segment of the population, it’s a profound change that the new President may feel that government can perform constructive and strategic tasks, which will require people with knowledge, experience and abilities. Also, a government that might actually pursue strategic diplomacy rather than being held hostage to AIPAC and the American Enterprise Institute would be an enormous change.

And speaking of the AEI, it’s amazing that some of the co-authors and leaders of an incredibly wrong-headed strategic policy are still being asked to present their opinions to the American public. With the global failures of Donald Rumsfeld writ large, and the moral evil of his torture policies having destroyed the soul of the American republic, why in any way should his opinions be NOT scorned and mocked? And how is it that international con-man and likely Iranian intelligence agent Ahmed Chalabi also gets space in my newspaper? These people have done tremendous harm to our country. Let me be clear about this – waging war against Iraq was never a worthy idea that was bungled by the smug idiocy or Rumsfeld, Cheney and Bush. It was, morally and strategically, wrong, ignorant, idiotic and just plain crazy (in that special magical thinking way that Conservatives so love) and, necessarily and inevitably, doomed to the exact failure it has become. Invading a country, occupying it and forcing it to have the government you wish it to have has never and will never work in human history, and it is foolish to think otherwise. And the narcissistic moral certainty of this crew also meant torture was inevitable, because when you are right and good, and someone opposes you, than everything you do to crush that opposition is right and good. While Chalabi is smarter than Kagan and Rumsfeld combined and squared, he is an amoral con-artist who amazingly managed to set our country to war against his, although without gaining his ultimate prize, which was to be installed as authoritarian political leader of Iraq. That’s where he made the same mistake, never picking up Sun Tzu or Clausewitz.

But these assholes are members of The Establishment, and are speaking to their fellows, and their fellow know pretty much nothing other than what the received opinion of their tribe is, and for them we are in Iraq simply because we are there, and we should stay because we are staying. It’s all inertia, all context-free. One refreshing and powerful fundamental change Obama brought to his campaign was to essentially ignore what The Establishment media thought of him, and opined and whined over. He had his plan, he stuck with it and now has enormous political power in the shape of what is essentially his own party and fund-raising means. He doesn’t need The Establishment, and clearly they can’t comprehend this. So not listening to their grave, smug nonsense would be an enormous change.


Author: gtra1n

I'm a composer and musician, and I write about music—I do that here, for the New York Classical Review, at the Brooklyn Rail (I edit the music section there) and any place else that will have me, like New Music Box and Music & Literature. I also wrote the Miles Davis' Bitches Brew book in the 33 1/3 series.