October 30, 2005

ONE OF THE THINGS I’VE NOTICED in the Judy Miller / Scooter Libby coverage is the development of a new history that’s very convenient for a lot of the people peddling it. The new story is that:

1. We only went to war because of WMDs — that was the only reason ever given.

2. Bush lied about those.

3. He told his lies to Judy Miller, who acted like a stenographer and reported them.

4. Everyone else gullibly went along.

There are lots of problems with this, beginning with the fact that it’s not true. I’ve addressed much of this — especially parts 1 & 2 — in earlier posts like this one, this one, and especially this one. It gets tiresome having to repeat this stuff, but the new history, despite its falsity, is just too convenient for too many people to be stopped by anything as simple as the truth.

Democratic politicians who supported the war want an excuse to tack closer to their antiwar base. Shouting “It’s not my fault –I’m easily fooled!” would seem a substandard response, but it is a way of changing position while pretending it’s not politically motivated. Meanwhile, journalists, most of whom were reporting the same kind of WMD stories that Miller did (because that’s what pretty much everyone thought — including the antiwar folks who were arguing that an invasion was a bad idea because it would provoke Saddam into using his weapons of mass destruction), now want to focus on her so that people won’t pay much attention to what they were reporting themselves. This makes Judy Miller a handy scapegoat.

But, as I say, the biggest problem with this revisionism is that it’s not true. I guess we’ll just have to keep pointing that out.

UPDATE: Meanwhile, Rand Simberg wonders if Scooter Libby will get a harsher sentence than Sandy Berger if convicted.

ANOTHER UPDATE: J.D. Johannes notes that what people were saying in the 1990s seems to raise problems with the revisionist history. “The final authorization for use of force in 2002 cited the legislation from 1998. But what was conventional wisdom and uncontroversial in 1998, became hotly debated in 2002 and beyond.” Especially “beyond.”

MORE: Still more revisionist history, from Barbara Boxer.

MORE STILL: Dean Esmay writes:

Having been part of those debates when they were happening, I am utterly appalled at people I used to think of as intelligent and well-informed who keep repeating falsehood after falsehood after falsehood about it. And I am utterly exhausted with having to, at least once a month or so, go back and rehash the same arguments because some people are not simply honest enough, diligent enough, or caring enough to go back and look at the historical record and just be honest about it.

I find having to rehash it all about as pleasant and satisfying as chewing on aluminum foil. It’s not disagreement I can’t stand, it’s the constant repetition of falsehoods that makes me want to scream.

Indeed.