[all emphases in original]
Now, there's a great deal more that's right with America than is wrong, and our respect for the principles of law and human rights, however flawed, is substantially better than that of many countries, especially those in the Middle East, especially those in thrall to medievalist dogma.
But we are slipping, and we are notoriously averse to serious self-reflection. The existence of burqas does not absolve us from our own responsibilities, nor does it magically negate the concrete reasons why we are where we are, and fail to do anything sensible about those reasons. And smug putzes like Ignatieff, who tend to cloak their half-culpas in passive-aggressive rump bien pensant weasel words, do not help things. Nor do the Everything Changed and Everything Matters dime-store philosophakers, who refuse to face realities with the same grim determination as the Ignatieffs and the Friedmans.
One of the great things about there being a million little debates on the internets is not only that they serve as correctives to the bland posturing of the Serious Thinkers, but that they knock down the smug delusion that these people know something profound that escapes us peons. This has been consistently proven untrue, yet the same people are saying the same things, five years and countless lives later. And other people nod and respond, and cooperate at least objectively in the ridiculous notion that any of them still deserve a place at the discussion table.
They don't deserve such a place as long as they continue to avoid the central task accorded them, which is repudiating their initial foolishness of judgment. And they may be right, in the professional sense -- if they admitted that their esteemed judgment was so tragically, fatally flawed, they really would be out of a job. The operational integrity of The Village utterly depends on preserving the veneer of studied perspicacity.
The most recent week of guests on The Daily Show, two of whom were Bill Kristol and Cheney hagiographer Stephen Hayes, illustrates this perverted logic. No doubt Jon Stewart brought them on to be willing, somewhat amiable targets for what Stewart (to his credit) has evolved into a slightly more aggressive, penetrating interview style. (Though Stewart is also in the habit of trying to backtrack and lighten things as the interview winds up, which is a mistake. There is no reason to give even the appearance of retreat from sniveling tools like Kristol and Hayes, who are well-compensated for their intellectual panhandling.)
Stewart's intent seems to be to render their arguments inoperable, which is not difficult to do. But because these people have no substantial ethical moorings, and because they are part of a corrupted process, just having them on actually serves to legitimize them further. It should not be an opportunity for weasels and hacks to show that they can be good sports and take a joke; it's not a fucking joke. These are repulsive people whose paid mission is solely to defend other repugnant people, and their lies, corruption, cronyism, and failed policies, which affect us all. I don't think Atrios was off the mark when he recently opined that Kristol is a person of the sort whose image should be routinely spat upon by decent people at this point. And in a thoughtful, contemplative nation more tethered to its founding principles, that would be the case.
Instead, people like Kristol are welcomed and lauded in what passes for modern salons of Serious Discourse in this country, without a trace of irony. Being wrong in and of itself is not a crime, but nor should it be buffered by its "good intentions". It should be hauled out and recognized for exactly what it is, and why it happened in the first place, not for personal retribution, but to avoid future occurrences.
But when you have people who were clearly, objectively wrong, and refuse to admit such, and either color their professional regret with dolorous pud pounding (like Ignatieff), enable it by cheerfully licking the same boots that got them there (like Hayes), or insist, at absolutely zero personal cost to themselves, that we must prepare to trudge yet further into the Big Muddy, and by God use their same fucking map that got us there in the first place (like Kristol), the least a responsible media presence can do is to stop giving them a soapbox. Kristol has his own fucking magazine, yet the Washington Post feels some ontological need to give him a column. Hayes is a sloppy thinker and a lackey to the worst sort of people American politics has to offer. Ignatieff peddles his weepy tropes in the country's largest magazines.
These people are nothing but poseurs, charlatans, pseudo-intellectual concern trolls. There is no goddamned reason for any responsible media entity to give them so much as the time of day, even if the mission is to refute what they say. Facts never mattered to them in the first place; what makes anyone think that even the most comprehensive refutation of their bullshit will sway them or their idiot fans one iota?