Monday, July 7, 2008

Debunking Some Serious Concern Trolling

UPDATED, 8:52AM, to correct some errors:

With thanks to commenter GHFarber, let me correct some aspects of this post and make it a little clearer.

I am criticizing the tone and the subject of a "forum" post by William Arkin, who, according to some research I did this morning, has actually done some good work that I agree with. I just take exception to what I feel is concern trolling or giving stupid advice to Barack Obama with the way he kicked off this forum. His work on this forum likely is not under the control of any editor at the Washington Post but is likely managed by an online editor at the

My original statement: The unhinged and misinformed crowd at the Washington Post finally gets a new editor soon--hopefully one that actually understands the world. I've had enough of the Len Downie era. I've had more than my fair share of Fred Hiatt. And in checking their ridiculous "forums" section, I find this:

...was wrong--Downie was, and Hiatt is currently, part of a chain that answers to management, but they are likely considered co-equals or near co-equals because the Washington Post keeps OpEd separate from News. I have high hopes that the tenor and tone of the content at the Washington Post will improve, but my high hopes, like this post, are probably going to crash by noon today.

The intended goal of the Washington Post company is to more closely meld their online edition with the print edition and trim costs; that's why they are cutting staff, getting rid of Downie, and trying to update their business model. Their coverage during the primary and over the last few months has been dismal in my estimation and has always been rather awful when it comes to the war in Iraq or issues like the outing of CIA employee Valerie Plame. I was making a clumsy effort to criticize that history when I should have been more specific. I apologize for the generalities when specifics would have been better.

---back to original post:
Arkin starts the discussion with:

Is Barack Obama already shooting himself in the foot as commander-in-chief?…

That's how moderator William Arkin proposes to kick off a discussion about Obama's sit-down interview with the Military Times group of newspapers. By engaging in some serious wankery and concern trolling.

Let's go point by ridiculous point:

In a long interview by the Military Times newspapers, the candidate shows a deference to the uniformed military, a humility that he associates with his lack of service in uniform but one that could also backfire as Clintonian weakness – Bill Clinton that is.

Blatant wankery, that statement. Get this--Barack Obama is being criticized for showing "deference" to the uniformed military. Can you imagine a similar criticism of President Bush? Of President Reagan? Of the first President Bush? Men who deferred to their military advisors on a daily basis. Can you imagine a first President Bush calling out Colin Powell and saying "he's wrong, and I'm not deferring to him--we're going to do this MY way." Can you imagine Ronald Reagan standing up in the Rose Garden and saying "the Joint Chiefs are idiots--I say, we bomb the Soviets tomorrow!" I can't imagine President Bush the younger saying anything at all--I've blocked out the nightmare of the syntax. You get the drift.

And how did Clinton's record turn out? How many fucking quagmires did he lead us into?
“I have always said that as commander in chief, I would seek the advice and counsel of our generals,” Obama said in the interview. “Great. The inmates will be running the asylum,” an insider tells me.

How denigrating. Someone, anonymously, says that the senior leadership of the US military are "inmates" running an "asylum." If that's the case, why isn't anyone doing anything about it? Why is there not panic? Could it be that those "inmates" rightly rebelled against Don Rumsfeld--a man not known for showing deference or humility to people who demonstrated they knew better--got in line behind Bob Gates and stopped a foolish war with Iran? Could it be that the "inmates" saved America without anyone realizing it? Tune in 25 years from now to find out.

Talk about concern trolling--asking Obama to not be deferential to the uniformed military is asinine. Well, if he isn't deferential, then the next thing you'll say is that he's a loose cannon who is ignoring the experts and conducting unilateral military operations without benefit of their wise counsel. Which is it then? Defer or seek counsel? How about--shut the fuck up?

Withdrawal from Iraq, his own surge in Afghanistan, dealing with the Bush legacy on Iran and Pakistan, missile defenses in Europe, increasing the size of the Army and Marine Corps despite his Iraq withdrawal pledge, a bloated and voracious defense budget, the outsourcing of defense, the intelligence mess, China and Russia:

Funny--where's the criticism of THIS administration? Where's the criticism of John McCain and his inability to tell the players apart from one another? Where's the criticism of his "tell people to knock this shit off" clown-cowboy approach to problem solving? Where's the realization that these weren't issues in 2000. You know. When Clinton was President? I mean, if Clinton was such a bad Commander in Chief, how the fuck did he have none of those issues on his plate, peace in the Balkans, a framework for dealing with North Korea, Saddam contained, Iran as a non-issue, Israel and the Palestinians talking, China talking to Taiwan, Russia in a coffin militarily and impotent, Europe ready to meet its NATO obligations, and Osama Bin Laden running like crazy from Sudan to Afghanistan, trying to evade capture? Today, we have Russia and China surging, no diplomacy in the Middle East, Bush's campaign promise in 2000 to get us out of the Balkans unfulfilled, North Korea contained solely because of Christopher Hill's efforts to undo the damage of the Bush Administration, Pakistan providing safe haven for Bin Laden and the Taliban, and 140,000 US troops trapped in Iraq while Afghanistan spins out of control?

When Clinton left office, we still had a military. When Bush leaves office, we won't have but a hollow shell of what once was, with hundreds of thousands of men and women needing medical and mental care that no one bothered to provide for. Which was the Commander in Chief and which was the idiot savant, minus the savant part?
What does the candidate tell us that is his new innovation? He says he wants to allow gays and lesbians to serve openly in the military. Yeah, let’s spend the first year of a new administration fighting about this again

It's about time--hey, the military needs all the men and women it can get. Obama has a plan to increase the number of men and women who can serve their country. McCain has a plan to put them in Iraq for a hundred fucking years. Who's more qualified to be Commander in Chief? Especially since fat, pink, young Republican males simply haven't stepped up and asked to join the military.

Concern trolling and wankery. Hopefully, the Washington Post can eliminate some of that, and soon.

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