April 28, 2004


Looking Through Keyholes (David Brooks, New York Times, 4/27/04)

These are the crucial months in Iraq. The events in Najaf and Falluja will largely determine whether Iraq will move toward normalcy or slide into chaos.

So how is Washington responding during this pivotal time? Well, for about three weeks the political class was obsessed by Richard Clarke and the hearings of the 9/11 commission, and, therefore, events that occurred between 1992 and 2001. Najaf was exploding, and Condoleezza Rice had to spend the week preparing for testimony about what may or may not have taken place during the presidential transition. . . .

Some people in other places may like to look through keyholes to see women in their underwear. We here in the political class like to look through keyholes to see what happens when a bunch of alpha males (and females) with the jobs we wish we held sit around a table and curse about people not in the room. After two years of Iraq obsession, many of us couldn't tell you what the Dawa Islamic Party stood for if our kids' Sidwell admissions depended upon it, but the frisson we feel hearing the nasty words Colin Powell said behind the back of Douglas Feith! C'est délicieux! . . .

Meanwhile out in the world, the American people have decided they at least are going to be serious. While we capital Clios are lost in the quagmires of ostentatious parlor game parallelism (Is Iraq Vietnam or the intifada? Is 2004 1920 all over again?), many Americans have decided that it's time to persevere and win. The number of Americans who want to increase troop levels has tripled. Many people want to stick it out, and judging by President Bush's jumping poll numbers, they seem to admire his decision not to engage with us Beltway types.

My first reaction to this column was that it is the best David Brooks column I've read in 20 years. My second reaction is that an article about how bolixed up the Washington process is, is still an article about the Washington process.

Posted by David Cohen at April 28, 2004 10:56 AM

"..but the frisson we feel .."

Brooks has been at the NYT too long, soon he'll be spouting French.

Posted by: Robert Duquette at April 28, 2004 1:00 PM