Roger L. Simon

Dept. of Reification

Despite what some might think, I don’t particularly enjoy ragging on other writers (politicians, publishers, sure, but not writers). It’s depressing and bad karma. But I couldn’t let this column by Tom Friedman go by without some comment – and not about his silly proposal of George H. W. Bush for UN Ambassador. That’s just grandstanding and everyone knows it. I’m talking about this paragraph, which is indicative of a larger mindset.

“Reforming the U.N.” is without question one of the most tired, vacuous conservative mantras ever invented. It is right up there with squeezing “waste, fraud and abuse” out of the Pentagon’s budget. If the White House is concerned about waste, fraud and abuse, let’s start with Tom DeLay and our own House.

The phony partisan reductionism of calling UN reform a “conservative mantra” is insulting and stupid and the idea of equating it with Tom DeLay et al ludicrous. Much as Mr. DeLay makes my skin crawl and I am willing to believe many of the accusations against him and his cronies in the House on both sides of the aisle, those accusations are nowhere near as important on a global scale as the Oil-for-Food scandal, which has subverted the stated goals of our most important international organization and turned them on their head.

The kind of sleazy self-justification being engaged in here by Friedman is of a piece with the outright lie in the Times’ editorial pointed out earlier today by Glenn Reynolds: The only plausible reason for keeping American troops in Iraq is to protect the democratic transformation that President Bush seized upon as a rationale for the invasion after his claims about weapons of mass destruction turned out to be fictitious. If that transformation is now allowed to run off the rails, the new rationale could prove to be as hollow as the original one.

This is an especially weird comment since the Times’ own executive editor wrote a long, positive profile in their magazine (before the war) of Paul Wolfowitz, in which the Deputy Defense Secretary speaks ad infinitum about the democracy argument. What I think is really going on here is liberal embarrassment. They have been caught on the wrong side of history. Worse, the anti-idealistic side.

Meanwhile, in the realm of news that is fit to print, a real reporter continues her work.

UPDATE: The all-time record for preaching to the choir has been broken. [Should we alert Guinness?-ed. They already read Drudge.]