Saturday, January 06, 2007

Selective Amnesia

I've come across an excellent article which addresses this bizarre world in which pundits get to screw up with impunity. I've written about this before (e.g. here, here and here) but, sadly, this story is no less true nor problematic now.

Glenn Greenwald, writing in the American Conservative says:

When political leaders make drastic mistakes, accountability is delivered in the form of elections. That occurred in November when voters removed the party principally responsible for the war in Iraq. But the invasion would not have occurred had Americans not been persuaded of its wisdom and necessity, and leading that charge was a stable of pundits and media analysts who glorified President Bush’s policies and disseminated all sorts of false information and baseless assurances.

Yet there seems to be no accountability for these pro-war pundits. On the contrary, they continue to pose as wise, responsible experts and have suffered no lost credibility, prominence, or influence. They have accomplished this feat largely by evading responsibility for their prior opinions, pretending that they were right all along or, in the most extreme cases, denying that they ever supported the war.

[...]

All of these self-proclaimed super-patriots who spent the last three years shrieking that anyone who criticizes the war is a friend of the terrorists are now being forced to admit that the war is unwinnable. But rather than acknowledging their reversal, they seek to erase the public record, both to salvage their reputations and to obscure the intensity of their attacks against those who were right. Such vitriol against critics muted debate in the first place and ensured that we stayed in Iraq, pretending all along that things were going great.

There is nothing wrong with acknowledging one’s errors and changing one’s mind. When genuine, this should be encouraged. But these pundits are not doing that. They know that they were on the wrong side of the most vital issue of the last decade, and in trying to reverse their predictions reveal themselves to be deeply flawed not only in judgment but also in character.

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