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Monday, January 14, 2008

Kristol Mess (Part II): Claim in New 'NYT ' Column on Iraq Contradicted by 'NYT' Article

His first column for The New York Times' op-ed page last Monday held a major attribution mistake, and then the paper's public editor came out against his hiring. Now a key claim in William Kristol's second column for the paper has been undercut by an news article at the Times a few hours later.

Kristol in his column, which hailed the success of the "surge" in Iraq, concluded with this trump card: Now the Iraqi government had agreed on de-Baathification, a key gain that proves his point and pretty much destroys the Democrats' stand. But now at www.nytimes.com comes a kind of corrective from the paper's Solomon Moore in Baghdad. It opens:

"A day after the Iraqi Parliament passed legislation billed as the first significant political step forward in Iraq after months of deadlock, there were troubling questions — and troubling silences — about the measure’s actual effects. The measure, known as the Justice and Accountability Law, is meant to open government jobs to former members of the Baath Party of Saddam Hussein — the bureaucrats, engineers, city workers, teachers, soldiers and police officers who made the government work until they were barred from office after the American invasion in 2003.

"But the legislation is at once confusing and controversial, a document riddled with loopholes and caveats to the point that some Sunni and Shiite officials say it could actually exclude more former Baathists than it lets back in, particularly in the crucial security ministries. Under that interpretation, the law would be directly at odds with the American campaign to draft Sunni Arabs into so-called Awakening militias with the aim of integrating them into the police and military forces. That plan has been praised as a key to the sharp drop in violence over the past year and as being the most effective weapon against jihadi insurgents like Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia."

UPDATE: The Times' lead editorial on Tuesday also raises doubts about the Kristol claim on the Baath advance, suggesting that rather than a great "accomplishment" it "may only serve to further reinforce the bumbling nature of President Bush's ill-conceived adventure in Iraq."


Anonymous said...

What bothers me is that critics of Kristol's hiring will inevitably be dismissed as politically correct lefties.

Horse dung.

Give me any good conservative journalist and writer. Give me someone to the right of Kristol. In fact, give me two more.

But while the line between journalist and polemicist/provacateur is never clear, please don't insult my intelligence by suggesting Kristol anything but the latter.

Also, while I may love the clash of diverse voices, all voices, I am not sure I want a voice that has been so immersed in the tussle of partisan politics. A Times column is a platform from which to deliver clarity and perspective, not partisan tactical explosions.

Look, I admire and tend to agree with people like Sidney Blumenthal and Paul Begala. But I promise that I would be comparably pissed if either of them got a Times platform.

The public provacateurs of popular culture are important and entertaining participants in the democratic process. But bringers of analysis and clarity? No way.

Mr Kristol has been an effective and vigorous public personality for his party; a bomb thrower as skilled as any who speak for his point of view.

A NY Times column, though, is a franchise that should be seen as something very different. The provacateurs, serving what they believe is a noble cause, muck up the air.

Journalists clear it.

Jay Ackroyd (@jayackroyd) said...

First off, the nepotism really gets to me. Kristol's credibility seems reasonable to Sulzburger and Rosenthal in part because it's just like their own credibility--handed into the position by Dad.

The second thing, and what Hoyt did not acknowledge, is that Krisol is simply a bad writer, aside from his complete tendentionism.

And the third thing is that they already have a flabby prose neocon in the stable. Why not a theocon, or a paleocon or a corpocon. Why double up on the subgroup that has been oh so wrong lo these many years?

Anonymous said...

Just more factually-correct prejudice. We need a paper with more diversity in opinion -- between fact-based and faith-based and fiction-based and free-based.

So I hired Kristol. I want a few more like him. Crack opinion writers. Now once we fill those slots, and the various fiction- and faith-based slots -- we can ponder whether we need fact-based stuff. Hard to check, have to know stuff, to edit it ... and it's not exactly a new idea in the world of Professional Journalism™, is it? -- to bring in some facts now and then? -- but then again it may be an idea whose time has come.

Or gone.


Paunch Snoozeburger

Anonymous said...

We are talking about the New York Times. For the past thirty years or so, the paper has ceased being a source of news and more a source of information on restaurants, fashion trends, real estate developments. Sort of community newspaper for Manhattan.

This is the paper that smeared Wen Ho Lee on the flimsiest of evidence.

This is the paper that to this day maitains that state governor (Bill Clinton of Arkansas) has some control over a federally regulated savings and loan.

This is the paper that to this day spouts the latest CIA spin (check out their 'news' articles on Pakistan).

I think hiring this Kristol offspring shows that their focus is being on a 'community' paper than being a source of any real news.

Anonymous said...

A better job for Kristol would be that of a Jack in the Box pop up dummy. The disingenuous smile, the ability to scare children and adults alike, the brain swinging around on the spring mechanism all are perfect for the task.
Kristol is surely the character Anthony Fremont in the Twilight Zone episode "It's a Good Life" grown up and the Times has decided to let him put us in that spooky cornfield in Peaksville, Ohio.

Anonymous said...

first column was thanking obama for "saving us" from a clinton presidency. she wins new hampshire the next day.

second column was saying how great the progress was going in iraq citing the de-Baathification agreement. the next day reality comes down hard with some facts again to smack bill kristol around.

whatever he says/writes the opposite is true 100% of the time. way to go nytimes!

too bad he doesnt make football picks.

Lefty said...

Ultimately we are talking about New York. And in New York City, we simply do not tolerate incompetence. Period. When you come here to work you had better be damn good at your job or you will be walking back to whatever second-rate city you came from with your tail between your legs. We DEMAND excellence, competence and professionalism. Hackery just does not fly in the Big Apple. We want your best, your brightest, your most-talented, and they will be rewarded.

But Kristol's analysis, opinions and especially predictions have turned out to be completely incorrect. What he writes is worthless because he is always wrong, sometimes spectacularly and famously so. The reaction would be different if he at least made some calls once in a while. But he NEVER gets it right! And that kind of incompetence does not belong in NYC.

Additionally, he is one of the main proponents and media architects of the biggest foreign policy disaster in the last 25 years, if not longer. The level of anger is a reflection of the frustration Americans have with this class of media, political and corporate elites who can fail miserably and not only are never punished or suffer for their enormous incompetence, but actually go on to be rewarded!

The Establishment in the United States has become as corrupt and detached from the rest of society as the French monarchy and aristocracy was in the late 19th century. Bill Kristol is unaccountable for his enormous errors in judgement and is contemptible for his arrogance in the face of those errors. You can be arrogant in NYC but you had better be able to back it up. We tolerate nothing less.

Anonymous said...

He was already one of the most exposed opinioneers out there, reaching many millions of people from his regular gig on Fox News and other outlets. How does hiring him contribute to diversity?

If they were really interested in diversity, there'd by a card-carrying Chinese communist and a fundamentalist Muslim writing for the paper...viewpoints that the American public is not used to hearing but desperately needs to be hearing.

Anonymous said...

Last week I cancelled my NYT subscription because I think W. Kristol is intellectually dishonest. Now they tell me he also does not write very well. I wonder what's worse!

Anonymous said...

Oh, I get it...hoisted by his own petard.

Hiring Kkkristol was the lefty Time's secret plot to, A-HA! provide a forum in which he could destroy himself.

Very clever, these NY liberals.

Go ahead, Billy, knock yourself out. Your own free-speech'll be the downfall of you every time.

Anonymous said...

Oh, I get it...hoisted by his own petard.

The lefty Times hired Kkkristol to provide a stage - upon which he could destroy himself.

Very clever, these modern-day liberal Machiavellians.

Anonymous said...

"Ultimately we are talking about New York. And in New York City, we simply do not tolerate incompetence." That's ridiculous.

Anonymous said...

I do not think we need more columnists specially having to do with fox news!

moondancer said...

Steve above says it quite well. Even a guy like Pat Buchanan has a sense of humor and perspective. While he might not be as "serious" as Kristol, I would like to read his take.
With Kristol, give me a topic and I'll write the column. He is so predictable in his propaganda and vitriol.
I think the dismissal that its just angry lefties is more maddening than anything.

Anonymous said...

"Ultimately we are talking about New York. And in New York City, we simply do not tolerate incompetence."
There is a lot to say about this statement and I'd love to go for the humorous one but I just watched a 911 video. Do a search on Rudy Guliani and Motorola Radios. Then tell me about New York competence.

Anonymous said...

"Ultimately we are talking about New York. And in New York City, we simply do not tolerate incompetence. Period."

Your city has janitors and McDonald's* too. So, someone as insightful and intelligent as Willy K. would be able to find work In New York.

However, your biggest paper invited him to write for them and incompetence isn't accepted there?

Enjoyed the comment and sentiment, just saying...

*No offense to janitors or fast food employees. Unlike Willy K., a waste of oxygen, you provide a service to billions of people the world over.

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