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July 27, 2007

On TNR and the Right

Andrew Sullivan:

To reiterate: I cannot know if everything in the various Baghdad Diarists checks out. But I cannot know that about any number of pieces I read every day. I'm also a proud alumn of TNR. But it seems to me people should make actual allegations of factual inaccuracy or refrain from smears. Call me crazy.

Oh, and, by the way, the attorney-general has clearly been fingered for perjury by the evidence of the FBI director. Here appears to be a proven untruth under oath by the attorney-general. Now do you have an idea why the entire right-wing blogosphere is frothing at the mouth about a story whose primary controversial fact has actually checked out?

The frothing right wingers who are in a screaming fury over a backpage, first-person, diarist article have no problem with untruth, or even massive government malfeasance. They have a problem with being wrong, or seeing the tenets of their faith -- in this case, a near deification of the military which is a necessary component in their continuing faith in its ability to complete an impossible mission Iraq -- challenged. Scott Thomas Beauchamp, who's actually in Iraq fighting the war, committed the cardinal sin of relating an experience that was unhelpful for the right's narrative. So they attacked. But that doesn't make the malfeasance and occasional cruelty of American soldiers in Iraq any less true, or any less of a factor in the war's trajectory:

July 27, 2007 | Permalink

Comments

How many blunders will the memory of Rathergate lead these people into?

Posted by: Neil the Ethical Werewolf | Jul 27, 2007 11:36:19 AM

That Mueller story looked interesting but the accounts I have read so far (just the NY TIMES and the Brietbart you linked above) don't go anywhere near establishing a perjury case. The headlines are overwrought for the content of the stories...so far. But, I'll stay tuned.

Posted by: slickdpdx | Jul 27, 2007 12:06:20 PM

If these people were around in 1946, they'd be teeing off on The New Yorker for running John Hershey's Hiroshima.

And as for Rathergate, the substance of the allegations made in the special have never been disproven, and do not rely on the spurious documents that go under that name. Four years earlier, the whole paper trail of Bush's desultory service career were already known, thanks to citizen-journalists like Martin Heldt, Maia Cowen, and Paul Lukasiak, plus the Boston Globe's Walt Robinson.

Posted by: Davis X. Machina | Jul 27, 2007 12:32:35 PM

I said this over at Yglesias', and I'll say it here: I don't think this swarm has anything to do with the Right's deification of the military or anything close to it.

It has everything to do with the Right's repeated calls to "take the gloves off." What that article showed was that the gloves are well and truly off, and this is what they get. What makes them so angry is that this diary anecdotally gives the lie to the bullshit that those pundits have been feeding the Republican masses for years now: we'd be doing great if only our boys could "go in and get the job done."

Posted by: Marshall | Jul 27, 2007 12:49:46 PM

Digby has a remarkable post about this today which concludes essentially that these warriors fighting the Battle of the Back Page don't give a whit for real soldiers but long for the fantasy GI Joes of their youth and the John Wayne of ``Green Beret'' (as opposed to the John Wayne of Sands of Iwo Jima which has much more nuance about war than is given credit). I think it is spot on.

Posted by: calscientist | Jul 27, 2007 1:09:13 PM

To indulge in a little mindreading of my own: Is it possible that klein has spent so much time concentrating on the supposed motives animating 'the right's' criticisms, rather than the substance of those criticisms, because he secretly fears that they do actually make many of the things claimed in the story look very dubious, and he cares far more about inflicting a defeat on 'the right' than the facts of the matter?

Well of course its possible, that is the great thing about talking about others alleged tacit motivations, what youre saying cant be proven or disproven. It's just the thing when you want to bash up on people but dont have any real argument worth making.

Posted by: iron pimp hand | Jul 27, 2007 1:11:15 PM

Because the right in this country has essentially become a kind of Leninist party -- truth is contingent and is only of use where it advances the cause.

Ditto the endorsement of Digby's piece. It's extremely well written and on the mark.

iron pimp hand -- so you want Ezra to prove the negative here. Look when various stories came out about Haditha the right went into the same froth. I haven't seen a single retraction from the right blogosphere when the stories of war crimes there were corroborated by the military.

Posted by: Klein's Tiny Left Nut | Jul 27, 2007 1:16:48 PM

rather than the substance of those criticisms,...

Don't be a tease -- what is "the substance of those criticisms"?

Posted by: Davis X. Machina | Jul 27, 2007 1:17:47 PM

Well of course its possible, that is the great thing about talking about others alleged tacit motivations, what youre saying cant be proven or disproven. It's just the thing when you want to bash up on people but dont have any real argument worth making.

Pimp, when the facts refute the fundamental charge of the critics (ie, that the soldier diarist in question did not exist) and the critic's reaction is simply to go in search of other grounds for questioning the veracity of the aricle, inquiry into their motives is not only reasonable but mandated.

Posted by: WB Reeves | Jul 27, 2007 1:22:34 PM

"How many blunders will the memory of Rathergate lead these people into? "

Posted by: Neil the Ethical Werewolf

It's not Rathergate; most of these people (if not all) have been eagerly swallowing every lie that this administration handed out, and spit back the refutations.

After six years of Bush, and four years an increasingly horrifying Iraq fiasco, these are the people who are *still* True Believers.

Posted by: Barry | Jul 27, 2007 1:40:37 PM

Got to say that, in the absence of more information, this video doesn't seem cruel so much as sort of dick-ish.

Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Jul 27, 2007 3:25:37 PM

Reading all the blogs discussing the Scott Thomas affair prior to his unmasking I really didn't see many make the unconditional statement that he wasn't a soldier in Iraq. The comments were more along the line of "he probably isn't a soldier but if he is he is lying through his teeth".

I find it amazing that everybody here is ready to pack up and move along without any explantion about who the "girl with the melted face" was, where the mass grave was, what is the name of the crazed bradley driver, and on and on...

Posted by: TomB | Jul 27, 2007 6:31:56 PM

find it amazing that everybody here is ready to pack up and move along without any explantion about who the "girl with the melted face" was, where the mass grave was, what is the name of the crazed bradley driver, and on and on..

This would be more compelling if he had actually made the "mass grave" claim.

Posted by: WB Reeves | Jul 27, 2007 6:46:00 PM

This would be more compelling if he had actually made the "mass grave" claim.

Here is the quote:

"No one cared to speculate what, exactly, had happened here, but it was clearly a Saddam-era dumping ground of some sort."

Sounds like a mass grave to me, but OK, we'll just call it a "Saddam-era dumping ground". Where was it? Who was the sociopath wearing the skull? How did he get a child's skull on his head and underneath his helmet?

It's also "compelling" that you ignored all the other claims.

Posted by: TomB | Jul 27, 2007 7:08:29 PM

It was an unmarked children's cemetery unearthed near FOB Falcon, TomB, described floridly. Other people stationed there have confirmed this to the Malkinites, so the people desperate to debunk this will just move the goalposts another ten yards ("But he overwrote the scene!").

Posted by: Steve | Jul 27, 2007 8:16:47 PM

Yes, there was an unmarked children's cemetery that was unearthed while constructing a Combat Outpost in the land south of Baghdad International Airport. It was also reported that the remains were recoved the same day and reburied elsewhere.

So there was no "Saddam-era dumping ground". Now, was there someone squeezing his head into a child's skull?

Posted by: TomB | Jul 27, 2007 8:29:34 PM

It was also reported that the remains were recoved the same day and reburied elsewhere.

Are you applying the same level of skepticism to that report?

Posted by: pseudonymous in nc | Jul 27, 2007 10:59:33 PM

Are you applying the same level of skepticism to that report?

No.

Reason?

It was independently verified by Major Kirk Luedeke.

But for the sake of argument I'll stipulate that a children's grave was found and the remains were not recovered properly, they were desecrated. Now, who is the soldier with the skull on his head (and under his helmet)? Who else participated in the desecration? And why did this soldier of your report it to the proper authorities?

Why doesn't somebody at least TRY and answer my question

Posted by: TomB | Jul 28, 2007 6:17:25 AM

I should have typed: "And why did this soldier of yours NOT report it to the proper authorities?

Posted by: TomB | Jul 28, 2007 6:21:09 AM

An interesting e-mail from Pvt. Beauchamp's 1SG, from The Foxhole --http://sfcmac.wordpress.com/2007/07/27/update-on-the-new-republics-man-in-iraq/:

SFC McElroy,

I’m not in the habit of answering these email’s. It would be far too many. I appreciate all the support from home and I can assure you that not a single word of this was true. We’ve been fighting this fight for quite some time. Numerous soldiers within my unit have served on several deployments and this is my third year as a First Sergeant in this unit. My soldiers conduct is consistently honorable. This soldier has other underlining issues which I’m sure will come out in the course of the investigation. No one at any of the post we live at or frequent, remotely fit the descriptions of any of the persons depicted in this young man’s fairy tale. I can’t and won’t divulge any information regarding this soldier, but I do sincerely appreciate all the support from the people back home. Again, this young man has a vivid imagination and I promise you that this by no means reflects the truth of what is happening here. I’m currently serving with the best America has to offer. I have worked and fought closely with every soldier within my company and they are consummate professionals in an area most people can’t fathom. I’m proud of my soldiers and would gladly give my life for any one of them. Please continue to keep them with you in your prayers and thank God that we have these courageous men willing to make the ultimate sacrifice for their country, Americans, and the people of this struggling nation.

Sincerely,

1SG Hatley

Posted by: TomB | Jul 28, 2007 7:18:25 AM

The email on her site is definitely fabricated - the kerning is all wrong.

Posted by: foxholed | Jul 29, 2007 6:33:49 AM

Well said 1SG Hatley - but now that Beauchamp has admitted to lying about it all - what will they all say now?

Jimmy Massey.

Jesse Macbeth.

Scott Thomas Beauchamp.

That's quite a line-up you guys are offering us...

Posted by: Evrviglnt | Aug 7, 2007 12:59:43 AM

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