Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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January 13, 2004
By: Kevin Drum

WEIRD JOURNALISM....This article by Chris Suellentrop in Slate yesterday is just weird. It's a collection of six statements by Wesley Clark that supposedly show that he "has the same propensity [as Howard Dean] for speaking imprecisely off the cuff." In other words, he's sort of a nutcase.

But I don't get it. Whether you agree with them or not, the statements themselves all seem like pretty ordinary campaign rhetoric to me and the only thing that's weird about them are Suellentrop's jokey headlines for each one. Here's what Clark really seems to have said:

  • George Bush didn't pay much attention to al-Qaeda before 9/11 even though he was warned about how dangerous it was.

  • Bush was so obsessed with Iraq that he didn't put enough resources into Afghanistan to capture Osama bin Laden.

  • Iraq wasn't much of a terrorist threat before the war, but it is now.

  • 55 million people have read a book in which the United Nations is portrayed as the Antichrist. This is ill-informed.

  • Angry young men are fertile ground for terrorist recruiters.

  • President Bush still doesn't seem willing to put the effort into Afghanistan that it would take to find Osama.

Am I missing something here? What, really, is Suellentrop's point in mischaracterizing what Clark said?

UPDATE: According to my commenters, Suellentrop says that his "headlines" were supposed to be ironic. They were the kinds of hysterical things that Fox News attaches to practically everything that comes out of Dean's mouth and he was trying to show what would happen if Clark got the same treatment.

Well, that sure didn't come out right, did it? I mean, that's actually sort of a funny idea, if it was really Suellentrop's intention, but you need to actually say that if you want people to get the joke.

Kevin Drum 11:06 AM Permalink | Trackbacks

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