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August 08, 2007


Quote of the day, from the greatest essay ever published on anything:

"They saw the WMDs over the hill, staggering under the weight of their own nonexistence like some funereal assemblage of bent-backed phantoms. Ignatieff crouched in the mulberry copse, glassed his target, cursed the Chomskian dust that risked his weapons ruin, then raised The Ultimate Task of Thomas Jeffersons Dream and sent its buckshot tearing into Iraq-- tatterdemalion, sanction-wracked-- and the rocks behind were splatter-stained with a crimson decoupage like some chromatic inversion of all that is holy and lawful. I kindly reckon we just shot the shit out of Iraq, Ignatieff said. And Friedman said, Lets move in to get a better look at her. And they tried hailing a cab with an anecdotaholic driver but they couldnt find one because they were stranded in a featureless semantic apocalypse, meaning-raped and apostropheless like some joy-smudged, italicized parody of Cormac McCarthy. And on the crest of the hill they heard Kanan Makiya weeping soundlessly like the very enabler of evil itself."

I actually had to wait a day to read this piece, as I tried to start it yesterday, 30 minutes before a scheduled interview with Bill Richardson (which got delayed), and was laughing so hard I feared continuing would ruin my interview. But if you're not about to interview a presidential candidate, or attend a funeral, I highly recommend you read the whole thing.

August 8, 2007 | Permalink



Posted by: Freddie | Aug 8, 2007 1:37:26 PM

Well that didn't work!

Try this one:


Posted by: Freddie | Aug 8, 2007 1:39:03 PM

Rees takes Ignatieff apart in a 'high-brow' sort of way that does make one's tummy hurt from laughing.

I ran into a 'low brow' comment section somewhere yesterday on the topic of the Republican legislator from FL caught by an undercover cop when the GOPer offered oral sex to the cop and offered to pay the cop for the privilege.

Anyway, the comments were hysterical. My favorite:
GOP = Gobble on Pen*s.

Posted by: JimPortlandOR | Aug 8, 2007 1:57:32 PM

This is insider-joke stuff. I can sorta follow it, but you really have to know all the people to find it funny. So I don't get it as a joke.

Posted by: Megan | Aug 8, 2007 1:58:00 PM

God, that was good. That was have a smoke afterwards good.

Posted by: nolo | Aug 8, 2007 2:06:27 PM

The way I read his account of Idiotef essay is that the people, who foresaw the failure of the Iraq war, not only foresaw the failure, but also wished for failure, and with the mystical powers that these treasonous libs have, their wishes had to come true, and therefore Bush and Idiotef cannot at all be held responsible for the fiasco.

Posted by: gregor | Aug 8, 2007 2:07:59 PM

like some joy-smudged, italicized parody of Cormac McCarthy.


Although, in a sense, the original Ignatieff article is already at the level of parody:

But they also have to learn that revenge, as it has been said, is a dish best served cold. . . .
They must be men of sorrow acquainted with grief, as the prophet Isaiah says. . . .

I wonder if Ignatieff knows the truth about The Onion. Because he totally needs to be writing for them, especially if he thinks they're serious, too.

Posted by: mds | Aug 8, 2007 2:25:51 PM

I have two favorite exceprts:

2. Don't bus drivers ever get tired of the "Regular schmoes are smarter than us academics/politicians/journalists" gag? Raise your hand if you think Ignatieff appointed any bus drivers to the Kennedy School faculty. I mean, if Ignatieff really thinks bus drivers are shrewder than academics, why didn't he quit Harvard and go drive a bus? After all, even if he turned out to be the worst bus driver ever, and ran over pedestrians every five seconds, he probably wouldn't kill as many people as his Iraq war did! (Joke.)


"Ma! Circle the wagons! The horses are coming!"
"But Pa, I can't circle the wagons without the horses! The horses pull the wagons!"
"Oh, no! We're totally gonna get trampled by horses!"

Posted by: eRobin | Aug 8, 2007 3:02:11 PM

Thanks for the heads-up Ezra. It was awesome, amazing, nasty satire. Worth every minute.

Posted by: mk | Aug 8, 2007 3:18:01 PM

Its funny, but its also sad.

It seems that David Rees has decided that no one who supported the Iraq war, at any time and for any reason, should ever be treated with anything other than mocking scorn.

Posted by: r4d20 | Aug 8, 2007 3:41:24 PM

I made some of these mistakes and then a few of my own. The lesson I draw for the future is to be less influenced by the passions of people I admire — Iraqi exiles, for example — and to be less swayed by my emotions....I should have known that emotions in politics, as in life, tend to be self-justifying and in matters of ultimate political judgment, nothing, not even your own feelings, should be held immune from the burden of justification through cross-examination and argument....People with good judgment listen to warning bells within. Prudent leaders force themselves to listen equally to advocates and opponents of the course of action they are thinking of pursuing. They do not suppose that their own good intentions will guarantee good results. They do not suppose they know all they need to know. If power corrupts, it corrupts this sixth sense of personal limitation on which prudence relies.

What a know-nothing warmonger! How can we listen to anyone who spews this nonsense.

Posted by: r4d20 | Aug 8, 2007 3:54:24 PM

It seems that David Rees has decided that no one who supported the Iraq war, at any time and for any reason, should ever be treated with anything other than mocking scorn.

(1) He is mocking someone who, in his mea culpa, still takes time to call most of those who were right about Iraq America-hating scum. This meets the definition of "worthy of scorn," even without the wretched overwrought prose.

(2) Even if your strawman portrayal of Mr. Rees' position were true, so what? Perhaps his stringent moral philosophy requires him to perpetually mock those who were cheerleaders for the murder of tens of thousands of people based on a pack of transparent lies. But Mr. Rees has no power to hold any such person meaningfully accountable for this; nor is he arguing for execution or imprisonment for anyone who fits your description. Which is in contrast to the calls of "treason" and "wanting America to fail" directed at antiwar folks by many of the oh-so-serious pro-war punditocracy. (Including Michael Ignatieff, in the very article being mocked: see Point (1).)

Posted by: mds | Aug 8, 2007 3:57:20 PM

r4d20, have you read the Rees piece? Did you read Rees's 2005 piece (linked in the current essay) on why Ignatieff supported the war? Back then, Ignatieff was explaining that the war was undertaken in order to bring Jeffersonian democracy to Iraq and thence to the world, and everyone against the war was against democracy. Now, Ignatieff still explains that only a moral midget could have opposed the war in 2003, so Ignatieff is really not to blame for his previous views, but the war has turned out not to be excellent, so Ignatieff now realizes that if he had been smarter than all the war protestors Ignatieff could have found good reasons to oppose the war.

This is what Atrios and others have called blaming the war on its opponents having been a bunch of dirty f@(k!n9 hippies to whom no-one should ever listen. The war was sold on lies (some of them retroactive, like Ignatieff's), and despite this common slander many realists opposed the war with truths; some of us were perfectly aware that Iraq lay between neighbors with competing visions for the Middle East and that Iraq was held together despite centripetal forces from religious and ethnic sectarianism; we even knew that a previous British occupation was invited to leave in no uncertain terms.

To sum up this long comment of mine, you posted that:
It seems that David Rees has decided that no one who supported the Iraq war, at any time and for any reason, should ever be treated with anything other than mocking scorn.
You seem not to have noticed that Rees is responding directly to the "mocking scorn" Ignatieff previously, and still to this day, applies to every one who opposed the Iraq war.

Posted by: Warren Terra | Aug 8, 2007 5:14:42 PM

"But if you're about to interview a presidential candidate..."

Damn, Ezra, you have grown quite the ego!

It's amazing how quickly you can rise in this slice of the political spectrum with a knack for writing and policy and absolutely zero understanding of economics.

Posted by: Do You Have a Beard Yet? | Aug 8, 2007 5:42:29 PM

Beard, it's not this slice of the political spectrum-- it's Washington, DC, the land of 24 year old "policy experts."

Posted by: Tyro | Aug 8, 2007 6:23:19 PM

It seems that David Rees has decided that no one who supported the Iraq war, at any time and for any reason, should ever be treated with anything other than mocking scorn.

Works for me!

Posted by: Col Bat Guano | Aug 8, 2007 11:08:02 PM

Having seen Ignatieff pseud himself on the BBC's highbrow shows before he pissed off to Harvard, he's been asking for this sort of takedown for a long, long time.

He is mocking someone who, in his mea culpa, still takes time to call most of those who were right about Iraq America-hating scum.

Indeed. Which is especially galling when that person is a Canadian who was rather too fond of using the word 'we' to describe the US for his home country's tastes. And a Canadian MP who spectacularly failed to win his party's leadership within a year of being elected, thanks to alienating most of his parliamentary colleagues who'd agreed with Chrétien's decision to sit out the Iraq debacle.

Posted by: pseudonymous in nc | Aug 9, 2007 3:50:06 AM

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