Listening to Matt Drudge last night I picked up the predictable-as-the-sun-going-down rightwing spin on the Iraq war: basically, if we fail in Iraq then a lot of people will blame the media for making it happen. He’s absolutely right, as long as by ‘a lot of people’ you mean Matt Drudge, Sean Hannity and every other professional bullshit artist who wouldn’t accept responsibility if it was
tattooed on Scarlett Johansson’s ass taped to a cute, fluffy kitten (ass removed at owner’s request).
When you attribute mystical powers of coercion to “the media” any number of things begin to make sense. Obviously these fifth-columnist fifth-estaters from the fifth dimension forced Bush to put incompetent hacks in charge of every aspect of postwar reconstruction, employing mind-control rays to force Bush and Rumsfeld to forego even the most minimal plannning for a rocky occupation (caveat: the rays apparently don’t penetrate the State Department, but that’s okay from The Media’s perspective because they can just force Bush to use reports from Foggy Bottom as trivets and table-leg equalizers). The philosophical implications are staggering. One has to ask whether the traditional concepts of free will and individual responsibility, principles on which our entire form of government is founded, have to be revisited in an era when The Media (and presumably The Left) possess awesome powers of mind-control-at-a-distance.
The group of hard-core blame-shifters isn’t actually that large. Folks from Francis Fukuyama to William Kristol to Bill O’Reilly have, in their own way, acknowledged that you can’t use the passive-tense any longer with respect to Iraq. Claiming tthat “Iraq was botched” lets the perps off too easy, specific people botched it. History will be especially unkind to Donald Rumsfeld (Greg Djerjian has written authoritatively on this) but the whole band of idealists and hacks who managed this operation will come in for their share of abuse. To pretend otherwise is both dishonest and increasingly untenable.