The Voices Of Reason: Where Were They The Past Decade?

Digby writes about Ben Smith's piece about Andrew Sullivan and George Packer lamenting the demise of reason in our discourse. Digby asks where these people have been for the past decade. Let me answer -- Sullivan and Packer were two of the most irrational voices in the country is where they were. They fullthroatedly advocated for the most insane policy in the recent history of the United States - the Iraq Debacle.

Excuse me, but reading about Packer and Sullivan lamenting the triumph of "unreason" is just too rich. Who are they kidding? They were part of the problem. Sullivan especially - his irrational hatred of Bill Clinton and Al Gore (and Paul Krugman) should disqualify him from ever writing about anyone being unhinged. As for Packer, let me refer to a piece I wrote about his Iraq Debacle advocacy in 2005. Read this passage from Packer:

Sam Rosenfeld and Matthew Yglesias have written thoughtfully about the limits of liberal interventionism. They are right to say that it needs to be rescued from the tragedy of Iraq; over a year ago I said the same thing in The New Yorker when I wrote that it will take years to rescue Vaclav Havel from Paul Wolfowitz. They are also correct that some self-scrutiny among those who seem destined to go to our graves with the name "liberal hawks" is in order. Again, I would recommend a look at "The Assassins' Gate." Rosenfeld and Yglesias show no sign that they read it before they accused me of supporting the war to avoid the taint of dovishness and then employing the artful dodge. But something in their eagerness to prove that Iraq was doomed to fail tells me that they have another agenda than the salvation of liberal interventionism. They want to win an argument--like some others who contributed to this discussion (it seems to be the default mode of bloggers and commenters on blogs). The inevitability argument has the feel of a very cerebral game played late at night by people who are extremely removed from the real field of play.

(Emphasis supplied.) The voice of reason? You won't find it in George Packer. Obviously you won't find it Fifth Column Andrew Sullivan. "Reason" lost the battle long before Barack Obama became President. Two of the movers in this loss were Andrew Sullivan and George Packer.

Speaking for me only

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    It's even worse, once you read (5.00 / 3) (#3)
    by Anne on Tue Sep 14, 2010 at 09:44:48 AM EST
    the Packer and Sullivan pieces...

    I love how Packer bemoans how little it takes to get the world's attention, and muses that he - all by himself - could probably start a war between India and Pakistan, or incite an office worker to violence.  That's pretty gobsmacking, juxtaposed against his role in aiding and abetting the Bush administration in going to war against Iraq.  How does he miss that?

    How does he not see that the unreason that ruled the day may be precisely why there are so many willing to go off the deep end at the seeming drop of a hat?  If we could go to war using trumped-up intelligence and flat-out distortion and manipulation, why should anyone bring patience or tolerance to the table?  How does he not get that the game plan for Iraq became a template for everyone else with an agenda?

    How valid can his theories be when they start from the premise that the war was a "noble mission to make the world safe for democracy?"  Was it really?

    The key for me is Packer's declaration that voters can't be trusted; I guess that explains why the voters - in spite of or perhaps because of what they have voted for - seem to be routinely ignored in favor of what those with louder, more powerful and more connected voices have to say.

    As for Sullivan, I love how he acknowledges his own overreaction and pats himself on the back for regaining perspective and making amends - really, Andrew? - but he makes the same mistake Packer does - in not recognizing that all the things he cheered for and demagogued created the very mindset and culture he bemoans.

    The problem with Obama is not that he is reasonable, but that he wants to please most those who resist him most, instead of working the power of "the base" - whatever that is these days - to move those who resist him over to his side.  I think they call that "leadership," but there has been such a dearth of it, it's possible the definition has undergone a major revision that no one told me about.

    Great comment (none / 0) (#4)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Tue Sep 14, 2010 at 09:46:51 AM EST
    Anne, (none / 0) (#5)
    by kmblue on Tue Sep 14, 2010 at 10:21:29 AM EST
    I usually just give you a five, but today I add:
    You rock!

    A few thing anti- torture (none / 0) (#10)
    by Militarytracy on Tue Sep 14, 2010 at 01:04:58 PM EST
    I have done a great good Andrew Sullivan said about the Iraq War.....

    "i'm sorry but i pay for those soldiers to fight in a volunteer army. they are servants of people like me who will never fight. yes, servants of civil masters. and they will do what they are told by people who would never go to war. that's called a democracy."

    "If this war continues as well as it has been, won't the anti-war left not merely be defeated but beyond humiliated?"

    "The men and women in our armed forces did the hardest work. They deserve our immeasurable thanks. But we all played our part. By facing down the evil, the cowardly and the simply misguided, we have done a great good."

    And Amnesty International yesterday

    Tens of thousands of detainees held without trial in Iraq, many of whom were recently transferred from US custody, remain at risk of torture and other forms of ill-treatment, Amnesty International said in a new report launched on Monday.

    New Order, Same Abuses: Unlawful detentions and torture in Iraq details thousands of arbitrary detentions, sometimes for several years without charge or trial, severe beatings of detainees, often in secret prisons, to obtain forced confessions, and enforced disappearances.

    I saw these two (none / 0) (#1)
    by Capt Howdy on Tue Sep 14, 2010 at 09:08:23 AM EST
    being linked to from all over  yesterday and the only thought that occurred to me was concern trolls.

    professional (5.00 / 1) (#2)
    by Capt Howdy on Tue Sep 14, 2010 at 09:08:47 AM EST
    concern trolls

    The voices of reason have long been drowned out (none / 0) (#6)
    by kmblue on Tue Sep 14, 2010 at 10:24:10 AM EST

    1.  Wingnuts with megaphones

    2.  A lazy and compliant press.

    soothsayers (none / 0) (#7)
    by Dadler on Tue Sep 14, 2010 at 10:53:42 AM EST
    ever at the read with some circular logic that, amazingly, always absolves them of anything glaringly daft.

    REVERSE soothsayers, i meant to say (none / 0) (#8)
    by Dadler on Tue Sep 14, 2010 at 10:54:38 AM EST
    Military Tracy, what do you think (none / 0) (#9)
    by oculus on Tue Sep 14, 2010 at 11:19:02 AM EST
    of this?

    The inevitability argument has the feel of a very cerebral game played late at night by people who are extremely removed from the real field of play.
     [Italics added.]

    That strikes me as very true (5.00 / 1) (#11)
    by Militarytracy on Tue Sep 14, 2010 at 02:29:05 PM EST
    It is really weird sometimes reading some bloggers on America and her war aspirations and all the great good we will do or not do or what is happening, and they've never even watched an Army train load.  Beautiful bright red monster engines though that I was told belong specifically to the military.  I think either two or three soldiers were smashed to death or somehow killed loading the first military trains heading out of Fort Carson.  The fricken massive hardware on the things made my head spin though, and because of the sheer mass on the move people die just getting to the war.  And the national wealth loaded on those trains....it was stunning in a frightening sort of way.  That to me is what is the reality and on the field of play.  Most everything else I read from bloggers about what we would be bringing to Iraq would have required fairies and angels and I didn't see them load any of those onto the trains.