Letters for December 8-14, 2005
Hail the Bloviators
They all get Brownie points: Bob Norman's December 1 piece ("Spreading the Plame") was bracing and timely. He probably understands that he will be execrated: People hate it when they were wrong and somebody who was right reminds them of it.
Packer, Goldberg, Friedman, Kristof, and the rest of the discredited crew should take an enforced sabbatical to brush up on their reportorial and analytical skills. Instead, like Brownie, Gonzalez, Rice, and the rest of W's henchpersons, they will be promoted and glorified.
Start spreadin' the news: Terrific column! This has needed saying for a long time, and you said it like it is. You put your finger squarely on four of the people (I'm not familiar with the editorial page editor) who have been making me sick since before this tragic, doomed, self-destructive, and murderous misadventure began.
I wish your piece could run in every newspaper and magazine in the country.
Editor's note: Joe McGinniss is the author of Fatal Vision and The Selling of the President.
Let's not forget Wolfie: I want to thank Bob Norman for exposing the wimpiness of the press leading up to the Iraq War. We should not forget the talking heads on television. My favorite was Wolf Blitzer on CNN. He was embedded with the Army during the "shock and awe" bombing of Baghdad. He was literally drooling at the prospect.
For the 35 percent or so of the American people who knew a big lie told by big liars, it is about time we had our chance to say, "I told you so."
All that and you want accuracy too? Judith Miller dedicated thousands of hours gaining a knowledge of nuclear, biological, and chemical warfare. She helped reveal to the world the massive chemical attacks by Saddam Hussein on the Iranians and later the Kurds, risking her life in remote and dangerous places, writing books on the subject. She became the New York Times' expert on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction. And like every other expert from Russia to Europe to the U.S. Congress, she was convinced those weapons still existed just prior to the 2003 invasion.
Miller's crime was not that she was wrong about WMD's but that she still possesses enough objectivity and intellectual integrity to see all viewpoints and possibilities. I watched Times Publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. being interviewed by Charlie Rose on PBS a few weeks ago. Sulzberger said Miller could not be trusted ever again even to write a restaurant column for the Times for fear readers would read some political message in her words. This coming from someone who has shamelessly corrupted a once-respected newspaper into a cheap, delusional political pamphlet. Arthur Sr., "Punch," was a World War II enlisted Marine, a traditional liberal, and a businessman. Arthur "Pinch" Jr. is a draft-dodging Vietnam War protester, a trust-fund hippie, and a boutique Marxist. "Pinch," 90 percent of the Times staff, and this boot-licking partisan, Bob Norman, wouldn't make a pimple on Miller's rear end.
What ever happened to that guy Safire? A nice start, but let's not overlook William Safire, who went into retirement still contending that Saddam had WMDs and that Mohamed Atta had met with Iraqi officials in Prague; the late Michael Kelly, who foamed at the mouth at anyone who dared to question the need to invade; Andrew Sullivan and Christopher Hitchens, the Brits who backed Bush's imperial adventure; Fred Hiatt and his invariably pro-invasion editorial page of the Washington Post, and so on.
In fact, what is disturbing is the paucity of major columnists, commentators, and hosts who stood up and shouted, "Are you nuts? Why are we invading a country to change a regime that is no threat to us, especially while Bin Laden and his gang are still free?"
"If any question why we died, tell them, because our fathers lied," Rudyard Kipling, Epitaphs of War, 1914-18.
You nailed it when you quoted Ann and Abby: Let's get one thing perfectly understood from the outset: The phrase "separation of church and state" is not written anywhere in the U.S. Constitution ("Proselytizing 101," Trevor Aaronson, December 1). That document does forbid the establishment of an official government religion, as has occurred in most Muslim countries under penalty of prison or even death. (Such was the situation in England that caused the Pilgrims to leave for America.)
By a process of, yes, evolution, that no-brainer notion has taken on a life of its own, until even educated judges believe in a phantom phrase and read their own prejudices into it to pacify secular bobbing heads. How sad that traitorous religiophobes are serving as infiltrators for the dogma of the North Korean atheists.
The most respected Ivy League universities such as Harvard and Yale were started by religious organizations. Virtually all the U.S. presidents were "religious," at least to the point of trusting in "providence." Ann Landers and Dear Abby, Jewish sisters, concluded that "the Bible is a treasure of wisdom and knowledge without which one's education is incomplete."
Let it be examined and taught as a theory or even superstition, mythology, or fictitious fairy tales; as an English teacher, I used it in Florida public schools as poetry and literature.
West Palm Beach
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