Ten Years of Krauthammer Days

by Henry on April 22, 2013

It’s now been exactly a decade since Charles Krauthammer told us that

Hans Blix had five months to find weapons. He found nothing. We’ve had five weeks. Come back to me in five months. If we haven’t found any, we will have a credibility problem.

Charles Krauthammer has not only had that five month period, but twenty-three other five month periods after that first one, for weapons of mass destruction to be found. It’s news to no-one that no weapons have been found. It’s news to no-one that the reason they haven’t been found is because they weren’t there in the first place. It’s news to no-one that Charles Krauthammer is still a columnist at the Washington Post, a syndicated columnist across the US, and a regular talking head on TV. It’s news to no-one that Fred Hiatt, his then-boss and fellow Iraq bullshit artist is still the editor of the Washington Post’s editorial page. Or that Jackson Diehl, who I heard at the time from Washington Post people was even worse than Hiatt, is still there too.

In short, it’s news to no-one that Iraq War related “credibility problems” aren’t really so much of a problem if you’re Charles Krauthammer. Or Fred Hiatt. Or any of the multitudes of journalists or pundits who flagrantly pimped for this disastrous war and hasn’t even gestured towards publicly admitting that they committed a gross dereliction of duty. I think it’s worth remembering Krauthammer day on this blog as long as Krauthammer and the people around him continue to pollute public discourse. I can’t imagine that it’s particularly efficacious, but the alternative of succumbing to the general amnesia seems even less attractive.

{ 48 comments }

1

jmouse 04.22.13 at 1:20 pm

As the late Gore Vidal once said, we are living in the United States of Amnesia. The neocons know this and they will go to their graves rewriting the history of the Iraq war to conform to their fantasies. E.g.:
http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2013/03/18/few-regrets-as-neoconservative-advocates-for-iraq-invasion-look-back.html

2

johnnyred 04.22.13 at 2:12 pm

And the Shrub, as the late Molly Ivens called him, is opening a library. The jokes write themselves.

3

Western Dave 04.22.13 at 2:15 pm

And yet you still won’ hear the Dixie Chicks on most country radio stations. Sigh.

4

Anarcissie 04.22.13 at 2:19 pm

I don’t find it very remarkable that Charles Krauthammer and the Washington Post tell lies. It’s not dereliction of duty. It’s their job.

5

P O'Neill 04.22.13 at 2:25 pm

Recurring observances invite repetition so at the risk thereof, I think the most remarkable free pass on Iraq War boosterism is that given to Jose Manuel Barroso.

6

Abby 04.22.13 at 2:31 pm

For the mathematically inclined, 24 Krauthammer periods = 20 Friedman Units.

7

calling all toasters 04.22.13 at 2:31 pm

Careful, or Krauthammer will diagnose you with Krauthammer Derangement Syndrome.* He used to be a psychiatrist!! He can diagnose anybody with anything!!

*Then he becomes rubber and you become glue– no backsies.

8

Steve LaBonne 04.22.13 at 2:32 pm

I really wonder why people think that the evaporation of the traditional media’s business model is a bad thing. The WaPo, for instance, cannot possibly go out of business as quickly as it ought to.

9

JazzBumpa 04.22.13 at 3:28 pm

Echoing #4.

Krauthammer saw his duty and did it very well indeed. This is exactly why he has been rewarded with ongoing celebrity.

Which is kinda why we’re so screwed.

JzB

10

ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© 04.22.13 at 3:30 pm

It’s news to no-one that Fred Hiatt, his then-boss and fellow Iraq bullshit artist is still the editor of the Washington Post’s editorial page.

Shirley you don’t mean the Fred Hiatt who is number five on The Left’s Top 25 Journalists, Henry?
~

11

Hazel Meade 04.22.13 at 3:41 pm

There are all sorts of people all over the world of journalism, not to mention government, who manage to keep having jobs despite being flagrantly wrong about all sorts of things. Why is Krauthammer special?

12

ponce 04.22.13 at 3:54 pm

” This is exactly why he has been rewarded with ongoing celebrity.”

@ 9

I’m not sure being a Fox News talking head is really a reward.

At my gym on Sunday, someone had Fox News on with the sound off.

The usual talking heads were yakking away on the obvious weekly topics.

They all looked miserable.

13

LFC 04.22.13 at 4:18 pm

S. LaBonne:
The WaPo, for instance, cannot possibly go out of business as quickly as it ought to.

Putting the editorial and op-ed pages to one side, the WaPo’s reporters, particularly (but not only) those stationed abroad, have done some good work. Rajiv Chandresekaran, Pamela Constable, Joby Warrick are a few who come to mind, but there are quite a few others. I’m not sure what you’d replace foreign correspondents with. I wouldn’t want to rely on CNN as a substitute (even if I had a working TV, which at the moment I don’t).

The WaPo op-ed page remains less-than-great, w Dionne and Meyerson not enough to balance out Will and Krauthammer and others. Will seems recently to have had some changes of mind on certain issues, like solitary confinement and the death penalty. I was bemused, though, to see a recent Will column which appeared, on a brief glance, to praise a movie documenting the miscarriage of justice vs the ‘Central Park Five,’ since that very case was the subject of an unforgettably terrible Will column back in 1989 called “They Went Wilding.”

14

christian_h 04.22.13 at 6:42 pm

Hazel: b/c he himself – quite explicitly – staked his reputation on something that turned out wrong and cost a whole lot of people their lives and yet that reputation hasn’t suffered. This makes him a good symbol for the general phenomenon.

15

Substance McGravitas 04.22.13 at 6:45 pm

I’m not sure being a Fox News talking head is really a reward.

You can be sure.

16

Doctor Memory 04.22.13 at 7:07 pm

Ponce@12: “They all looked miserable.”

I’m sure the six-figure paychecks ease the pain.

17

Katherine 04.22.13 at 7:35 pm

Hans Blix had five months to find weapons. He found nothing.

The fact that he could write these sentences and not think – hang on a minute – says it at all really. He didn’t really care whether weapons were found, although he might have convinced himself otherwise at the time.

18

geo 04.22.13 at 8:05 pm

OP: I think it’s worth remembering Krauthammer day on this blog

Couldn’t agree more. And a very fine little memento you’ve written. Just one question. In this sentence:

any of the multitudes of journalists or pundits who flagrantly pimped for this disastrous war and hasn’t even gestured towards publicly admitting that they committed a gross dereliction of duty.

should it be “hasn’t” or “haven’t? I can see arguments for both, but I think I’d go with “haven’t.”

19

Steve LaBonne 04.22.13 at 8:31 pm

should it be “hasn’t” or “haven’t? I can see arguments for both, but I think I’d go with “haven’t.”

There’s no hard and fast rule about the grammatical number of “any” but I vote for singular in this kind of construction, in which “any” is essentially shorthand for “any one of”.

20

Mao Cheng Ji 04.22.13 at 8:56 pm

But it also has “they committed”. “Hasn’t” would go better with “he or she committed”.

21

Agog 04.22.13 at 9:06 pm

But the point is surely that the singular of ‘multitudes’ is a plurality…..

22

Substance McGravitas 04.22.13 at 9:08 pm

Steve is objectively pro hasn’tization and must be condemned.

23

bexley 04.22.13 at 9:35 pm

I’m sure there’s something in the Euston manifesto condeming hasn’tization.

24

freddie 04.22.13 at 9:50 pm

Speaking of long long delays: When do we at last get to be shown, told, the results of the
cause of death for Joseph Arafat, exhumed because a suspicious wife thought the Israelis had poisoned him. It has been now, what, 9 months since they began their forensic work.

25

Cahokia 04.23.13 at 2:11 am

I would rather the remonstration be toward the idea of doing war on the “cheap”: “You go to war with the army you have….,” Rumsfeld. At the very least they could start to embrace a Rooseveltian “all-in” war economy. Aside from the fact of the other failure of the lead generals to listen credibly to military strategists and generals who warned of a drawn out, door to door, protracted quagmire; during the run-up to the invasion.

26

MikeN 04.23.13 at 3:21 am

Krauthammer vindicated!

Dzokhar Tsarnaev was just charged with using a weapon of mass destruction – his pressure cooker bomb.

It says on Google that pressure cookers are often used in Middle Eastern cuisine.
Are you liberals trying to tell me that there weren’t any pressure cookers in Iraq?
Mrs. Hussein didn’t have one in the kitchen?

27

Uncle Jeffy 04.23.13 at 3:27 am

The pounding sound you hear is all the Kraphammer apologists trying to find a way to make everyone forget his past transgressions. Surely if there is a God with an iota of justice in his/her/its makeup, the Krapman will roast in hell for a very long time.

And thank you, Henry, for keeping that unholy slimeball in our sights….

28

js. 04.23.13 at 3:45 am

Don’t know about you, but I like to imagine him wildly whacking hammers at heads of cabbage in his back yard. A strangely soothing image, I find.

(Unrelatedly, agreed that “any” should take the singular “hasn’t”; “they” should be read as the gender-neutral third person singular.)

29

Gloria Enoch 04.23.13 at 4:47 am

Don’t read the WASHINGTON POST, after this article why would I start? News folks are not there to inform the public they are there to influence opinion and to tell people what they want to hear. So not surprised. Stop reading the Washington Post and most other newspapers.

30

Toni VanMeter 04.23.13 at 5:49 am

I hate that the news media still uses the word (WMD). The Bush Administration never did find any WMDs.

31

votkapivo 04.23.13 at 7:01 am

Well, you Americans are lucky, at least you can point your finger at some moron(s) that are obviously telling lies in the line of their journalistic duty. Over here in Europe, especially the Netherlands, people and journalists still actually believe that politics has something to do with honesty and care for the people. AND they believe what politicians say. How screwed are we?

32

Doug Cottrell 04.23.13 at 7:33 am

Perhaps you have not noticed but there were many weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, Iran, the U.S., and even Haiti.

The primary charge against Dzhokhar Tsarnaev in the Boston Marathon bombing is “unlawfully using and conspiring to use a weapon of mass destruction” ie/ a pressure cooker bomb, and the charge would have been the same had it been a pipe bomb, or a box of fireworks.

http://edition.cnn.com/interactive/2013/04/us/dzhokhar-tsarnaev-charges/index.html

I had seriously (but obviously misstakenly) assumed that “weapons of mass destruction” meant nucleur weapons, or biological weapons, or giant satellite laser beams.

It seems we all, and especially Michael Moore, owe Mr. Bush, Mr. Cheney and his cadre of advisors an apology.

Every restaurant, household, or Bedoin camel hearder tent in Iraq was hiding multiple weapons of mass destruction and only a few brave leaders were aware of it.

Just as only they are aware of the WEAPON OF MASS DESTRUCTION just unleashed on the world in Boston.

33

ajay 04.23.13 at 9:47 am

Speaking of long long delays: When do we at last get to be shown, told, the results of the cause of death for Joseph Arafat,

Autocorrect is a treacherous tool :)

The Palestinian government said at the time that testing would take at least three months. Last month, a spokesman for the lab doing the tests in Lausanne told Al Jazeera that the results would be released at the end of May. Hope that helps!
http://www.aljazeera.com/news/middleeast/2013/03/201337122326678402.html

34

Cahokia 04.23.13 at 1:18 pm

“Dear Wheeler, you provide the prose, poems; I will provide the war.” -Citizen Kane

35

ajay 04.23.13 at 1:25 pm

I had seriously (but obviously misstakenly) assumed that “weapons of mass destruction” meant nucleur weapons, or biological weapons, or giant satellite laser beams.

In US law it means bombs as well. Pretty much anything capable of causing multiple casualties at once that isn’t a firearm.
In common use it’s a bit more vague – originally meant aerial bombing, now means, generally, nuclear, chemical, biological and radiological weapons.

It’s not uncommon for words to have different meanings in law and common speech. You could talk about, for example, President Maduro of Venezuela as being the “true heir to Hugo Chavez”. But in law, of course, he almost certainly isn’t; Chavez’s heirs will be his children.

36

SusanC 04.23.13 at 1:30 pm

The continued watering down of the term “weapons of mass destruction” is interesting, and there may be more to it than just lying politicians (e.g. Blair).

From the 1946 UN resolution “Establishment of a commission to deal with the problems raised by the discovery of atomic energy”:

“In particular, the Commission shall make specific proposals: [...] (c) for the elimination from national armaments of atomic weapons and all other major weapons adaptable to mass destruction”

It’s pretty clear that an improvised explosive device based on a pressure cooker was not the kind of thing the UN was seeking to eliminate from national armaments in 1946.

The Tony Blair usage was distinctly deceptive (using the term “weapons of mass destruction” to obfuscate the difference between chemical and nuclear weapons) but still had an air of using the term in the sense it is used in UN treaties.

Current US law enforcement usage is rather different.

Now of course, there is a big difference between the kind of weapon targetted by UN treaties and the kind of weapon that domestic laws prohibit private individuals from owing, so some context-dependant difference in the terminology might be excusable.

But possibly, there’s something deeper going on. The current fears about terrorism are in some sense substituting for Cold War fears about nuclear war; but because a couple of guys with home-made IEDs is nowhere near as serious a threat as all-out nuclear war between the US and the Soviet Union, a substantial degree of hype is needed to make it work as a replacement.

37

rf 04.23.13 at 1:59 pm

Sure the Israeli’s would never do that..they’re a democracy dontchaknow

38

Doug Cottrell 04.23.13 at 2:14 pm

The obfuscation or more accurately the intentional abuse of the terminology is important, nefarious and common.

Also in the Boston charges you will see almost 2 pages which sound entirely out of place as they go about declaring how the bombing affects interstate commerce and even tries to place a dollar value on the commerce affected … why ?? Because the charges would be local and State charges otherwise. By jumping through hoops trying to assert how the bombings affect Interstate Commerce it allows Federal charges and Federal Law Enforcement procedures to be enforced.

By placing “terrorist” charges the case can be used to turn on the entire “do whatever we want” National Security mechanism to follow up on the investigation.

The Harrison Ford/Jack Ryan movie “Clear and Present Danger” makes good use of this procedure as a key part of the plot and the title itself. In “The War on Drugs” South American drug lords are striking back after having funds seized, the CIA/Ryan has promised Congress that no covert actions are taking place, and the President is fuming because an old college chum is caught up in the funding scandal and has been killed. He turns to the head of National Security who asks what he wants done, the President says it should be dealt with, the NSA head asks “well what do you mean by that”, and the President states that obviously the situation represents “A Clear and Present Danger” to the security of the United States.

Again, you can ask why or why is this important… because there is/was a law allowing unauthorized covert activities in situations which represented a Clear and Present Danger to US security. Basically these are the magic words allowing, authorizing and instructing the security establishment to do whatever they felt like — and, in the movie, they did. Likewise in Iran with WMD.

Watch it happen this time as well.

It will although with the changes over the last 15 years you may never see what will be going on behind the scenes justified by these seemingly trivial choices of words.

39

LFC 04.23.13 at 2:42 pm

Gloria Enoch @29
Stop reading the Washington Post and most other newspapers.

Of course there are some alternatives to newspapers, but WaPo is one of the relatively few newspapers (NYT, Wall St J and a few others) that still have the resources to do investigate reporting and to support foreign bureaus. WaPo covers the U.S. federal bureaucracy (eg. W. Pincus’s decades-long work covering DoD and the natl sec agencies) more closely than most if not all other news outlets. (Eg WaPo had the recent story about EPA’s new proposed sulfur requirements for gasoline before anyone else, afaik.)

40

ajay 04.23.13 at 2:44 pm

a couple of guys with home-made IEDs is nowhere near as serious a threat as all-out nuclear war between the US and the Soviet Union,

That’s debatable. Over the last 20 years, a few guys with home-made IEDs have killed and wounded a lot more Americans than the entire Soviet nuclear arsenal ever did.

41

rf 04.23.13 at 2:48 pm

I tend to agree, I think you can pick and choose the good bits. Dana Priest seems honest and intelligent, as was Anthony Shadid at the NYT, and as you mentioned earlier Rajiv Chandresekaran et al..I think adopting a position of ignoring the editorial pages (of all newspapers) is reasonable though

42

rf 04.23.13 at 2:52 pm

“That’s debatable. .”

With respect ajay, I don’t think it’s that debatable.There is no reasonable argument that the modern ‘terrorist threat’ is as serious as the potential of the US/Soviets stumbling into nuclear war

43

Doug Cottrell 04.23.13 at 2:57 pm

Cahokia 04.23.13 at 1:18 pm
“Dear Wheeler, you provide the prose, poems; I will provide the war.” -Citizen Kane

“But if thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought.”
― George Orwell, 1984

44

geo 04.23.13 at 4:47 pm

rf @42: The difference is that, as one wise neoconservative remarked, “states have addresses.” If the Soviet Union had launched an all-out nuclear attack and blown civilization to smithereens, we would have known who the culprit was, which would have been comforting. Whereas the crimes — or even the existence — of nameless and address-less terrorists is* … well, terrifying.

PS – “Is” or “are”?

45

rf 04.23.13 at 5:59 pm

I take your point geo but, as I’m sure you know, even the wisest neo-con rarely talks sense.. transnational terrorist organisations still generally have addresses. Al Qaeda’s was ‘the Tora Bora Mountains, Afghanistan’ .. the fact that the Bush faction decided to imagine it as ‘Muslims, Everywhere’ says more about them than the actual threat

If the threat is now primarily from amateur domestic radicals that’s even less threatening, as they won’t have the training or resources to do any real damage. (And if it’s an amalgamation of both, how are they going to smuggle that nuke through customs?)

Which brings us back to ajays ‘the IED is worse than the Nuke!!!!’

I say, not a chance

46

rf 04.23.13 at 6:13 pm

….although I assume you weren’t being completely serious in finding the current state of affairs terrifying?

47

geo 04.23.13 at 6:18 pm

completely serious

Afraid I’m not familiar with that state of intentionality.

48

Guano 04.24.13 at 7:54 am

If you click on the Jose Manuel Barroso link in comment #5 you get the transcript of the Azores press conference, where the mendacity of the Iraq affair is laid out in all its glory.

Barroso has had plenty of free passes in his life, such as his sudden transition from the MRPP to PPD. His explanation that he was in the MRPP to fight the influence of the (Moscow-linked) PCP only makes sense if he was some kind of agent provocateur: the MRPP was more Stalinist that the Stalinists. MRPP murals are the only place where I have seen or heard the phrase “Long live the ideas of Stalin”. The MRPP was always trying to push the rest of the Left in post-1974 Portugal to extreme and violent positions. If Barroso believed even 1% of what the MRPP said he would be lucky to be mayor of a small town in the Alentejo.

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