Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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February 22, 2009

IRONY WATCH.... The very first sentence of George Will's new column reads:

A simple apology would have sufficed.

Oh, George, the irony is rich.

In context, Will's column blasts Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.) for his proposed constitutional amendment on prohibiting gubernatorial Senate appointments. The "simple apology," in Will's mind, should come from Feingold for his campaign-finance reform efforts.

More to the point, though, there's still no word on when Will might offer a "simple apology" for his factual errors in last week's column on global warming.

Steve Benen 8:45 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (24)

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. . . Will's column blasts Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.) for his proposed constitutional amendment on prohibiting gubernatorial Senate appointments. The "simple apology," in Will's mind, should come from Feingold for his campaign-finance reform efforts.

Well, yeah. The McCain-Feingold bill was hardly worth the effort. It slightly narrowed loopholes in delivering campaign contributions (bribes) -- enough that candidates for elections had to settle for semi-trailers full of money (bribes) instead of freight trains full of money (bribes).

As I've said before, we'll never see the kind of reform we need -- in health care, finance, the environment, energy -- until we have public financing of elections.

Posted by: SteveT on February 22, 2009 at 8:53 AM | PERMALINK

The simpleton wants a simple apology. How fitting.

Posted by: The Answer WAS Orange on February 22, 2009 at 8:56 AM | PERMALINK

George Willie-Nillie will offer his most profuse apologies---and stop demanding totally-unnecessary apologies from others---when it becomes expensive enough for the painfully-stupid NeanderCon Man fuckwit for him to change his ways.

And if he wants an apology from me for calling him a painfully-stupid NeanderCon Man fuckwit, then here it is: I am sorry that George Willie-Nillie is, in fact, a painfully-stupid NeanderCon Man fuckwit.


Posted by: Steve W. on February 22, 2009 at 8:57 AM | PERMALINK

So much for the theory that Wills threw a temper tantrum and thus prevented the WaPo from issuing an apology. He must have liked the attention. So keep it coming! Email


Posted by: Danp on February 22, 2009 at 9:11 AM | PERMALINK

George Will is a pompous imp. An apology for his lies and deceptions will not be forthcoming.

Posted by: pluege on February 22, 2009 at 9:19 AM | PERMALINK

Did you read through the comments thread of the article? Many responders brought up his inaccurate article and need for a retraction.

Posted by: coral on February 22, 2009 at 9:19 AM | PERMALINK

I have to think the first sentence is an intentional thumb in the eye of his critics. He knows of the criticism, doesn't care, and wants all of us to know that.

What an ass.

He has to keep up his right wing credentials so that he can receive his millions in speaking and appearance fees for right wing organizations---this is much more important to him than any factual errors.

Posted by: john d'oh on February 22, 2009 at 10:07 AM | PERMALINK

Who still reads George Will? After a while, one discovers that what he says and writes is like listening and reading carbon paper. Nothing new.

Posted by: halfnhalf on February 22, 2009 at 10:11 AM | PERMALINK

THIS WEEK on ABC with George Stephanopolous featured an "economic roundtable" including, "as always," George Will, plus Suzie Welch, Dr. Gloom-Roubini and Paul Krugman. Even Suzie had more to offer than George Will. Roubini and Krugman, after all, served as a "truth squad" to bottle up Will's efforts to make the case for conservatives challenging Obama's recovery plans. Perhaps Suzie's appearance was for some sort of gender balance or perhaps hubby Jack might have been vulnerable to corporate largess that over the years helped get us in this financial quandary.

Posted by: Shag from Brookline on February 22, 2009 at 10:18 AM | PERMALINK

When will we see an admission of inaccuracy or an apology from George Will? Never, that's when.

Anybody who believes otherwise is either crazy or a crackhead.

Posted by: Helena Montana on February 22, 2009 at 10:21 AM | PERMALINK

Not that thrilled by the Feingold amendment - Recently, in Oregon, there was a flurry of talk that Senator Wyden would be named to a cabinet post. Problem in Oregon is we have that amendment in place. Gov Kulongoski could not have appointed anyone. So, the prospect of Gordon Smith coming back to run was very strong. He would have had the bankroll to fight any Rep, such as Blumenhauer or DeFazio. Fortunately, the move for Wyden didn't jell.

Posted by: berttheclock on February 22, 2009 at 10:22 AM | PERMALINK

Has Dan Rather ever apologized?

Posted by: dead freight mike on February 22, 2009 at 10:46 AM | PERMALINK

You say "irony", I say "hypocrisy." Must be a regional dialect thing.

Seriously, I find it hard to put such things down to "irony." I think "double standard" is good, or "ideological blinders," or even "partisan inconsistency." "Irony" suggests there's something humorous -- and we're LONG past that.

Posted by: ThatTallGuy on February 22, 2009 at 11:47 AM | PERMALINK

Has Will ever admitted error? Which is to say, in reality, ever? Just wondering...

Posted by: MattF on February 22, 2009 at 11:48 AM | PERMALINK

Will's column this week was pretty memorable on its own, nearly as outstanding as the last one, in fact. He invents his own definition of checks and balances -- government was intended to be distributed between three entities, the people (House), state legislatures (Senate) and the electoral college (Presidency) -- and then mourns that it no longer exists and that electing Senators isn't left to him and those he fancies are like him. He seems to believe the first group is so stupid it shouldn't realize the other two are made up of the same people, and can't understand why they should object. This gallops straight past inaccuracy into delusion. He doesn't need a fact checker so much as a straitjacket, or maybe an elementary school civics course.

Posted by: ericfree on February 22, 2009 at 1:10 PM | PERMALINK

Before you get too far out on a limb you may later have to saw off, you might want to check into the fact that one of the sensors on the satellite measuring Arctic Ice has been malfunctioning since about the end of the year, and apparently over-predicting the ice melt as a result.
See the Arctic Sea Ice News. It has only become recognized in the last week, but could impact the question as to how much ice was where when.

Posted by: Heading Out on February 22, 2009 at 1:35 PM | PERMALINK

More to the point, though, there's still no word on when Will might offer a "simple apology" for his factual errors in last week's column on global warming.

"Does 'never' work for you?" - Nancy Pelosi

Posted by: low-tech cyclist on February 22, 2009 at 1:56 PM | PERMALINK

I've been reminding people that last Sunday's column was, at a minimum, the seventh George Will column raising the alleged 'global cooling' scare of the 1970s as a reason to ignore what scientists are saying about global warming. The others were on May 31, 1992; September 3, 1992; December 11, 1997; December 23, 2004; April 2, 2006; and May 22, 2008.

A juicy quote from Will's September 3, 1992 column: "Actually, too often skepticism (about Love Canal, acid rain, the -- it turns out -- nonexistent Northern Hemisphere hole in the ozone layer) is vindicated long after being portrayed in the media as a moral failing, rather than an intellectually debatable position."

It would be great if someone would ask Will just how skepticism about Love Canal, acid rain, and the hole in the ozone layer have been vindicated.

But I don't expect a Villager to do that, because it would involve offending one of the Village's most esteemed idiots.

Posted by: low-tech cyclist on February 22, 2009 at 2:05 PM | PERMALINK

While I'm on about all those old Will columns about global cooling, it seemed apropos to bring up Will's most significant intellectual sin in last Sunday's column, because it's one he's now repeated several times. It involves this section of an article from the December 10, 1976 issue of Science:

Future climate. Having presented evidence that major changes in past climate were associated with variations in the geometry of the earth's orbit, we should be able to predict the trend of future climate. Such forecasts must be qualified in two ways. First, they apply only to the natural component of future climatic trends - and not to anthropogenic effects such as those due to the burning of fossil fuels. Second, they describe only the long-term trends, because they are linked to orbital variations with periods of 20,000 years and longer. Climatic oscillations at higher frequencies are not predicted.
One approach to forecasting the natural long-term climate trend is to estimate the time constants of response necessary to explain the observed phase relationships between orbital variation and climatic change, and then to use those time constants in the exponential-response model. When such a model is applied to Vernekar's (39) astronomical projections, the results indicate that the long-term trend over the next 20,000 years is towards extensive Northern Hemisphere glaciation and cooler climate (80).

What did George Will quote from that article? The bolded words - "extensive Northern Hemisphere glaciation." Glaciation that's based on a model excluding everything other than variations in the earth's orbit, and specifically excluding "anthropogenic effects such as those due to the burning of fossil fuels."

That's the only peer-reviewed article that Will has cited in making his case for a global-cooling scare, and he totally reverses its meaning via selective quoting.

This isn't the first time he's done this, or the second, or even the third.

To be specific, he's done this on May 31, 1992; December 11, 1997; December 23, 2004; April 2, 2006; and finally last Sunday. He's twisted, to the point of inversion, the meaning of his only good cite five times over the past 17 years.

What a dork.

Posted by: low-tech cyclist on February 22, 2009 at 2:15 PM | PERMALINK

He then makes the rest of the column about how we should go back to having state legislatures choose Senators (in the course of which he cited the most pro-slavery politician in American history, John C. Calhoun as one of his beau ideal senators). Will his a true movement conservative. He misstates the truth in order to get his memes into the daily narrative so that when a scientist comes on CNN or Fox, one of the anchors will be sure to ask him "But isn't it true that scientists were predicting global cooling back in the seventies! Mission accomplished from George's point of view of protecting the interests of the rich and elite (many of whom are rich and in the elite due to fossil fuels.)

Posted by: sherparick on February 22, 2009 at 4:55 PM | PERMALINK

What am I missing?

How allowing large undisclosed donations to Senators have helped?

I'd read the Geroge Will column for enlightenment as to my question but I'm afraid... I don't have any Advil in the house.

Posted by: toowearyforoutrage on February 22, 2009 at 6:39 PM | PERMALINK

Will is even wrong, or at least flaky, about the Founders wanting Senators to be elected by state legislatures. Madison and Hamilton, the authors of the Federalist Papers, and Washington all wanted the Senate to be elected by the people and proportioned to population like the House. The fixed ratio of senators to states and their election by the state legislatures was part of what is sometimes called the "Great Compromise" and essentially resulted from the slave states' delegates correctly concluding that this was their way to freeze any action against slavery by the central government in near perpetuity. When this stranglehold on the issue was threatened by a Republican sweep of free states in 1858 and 1860, the slave states rebelled. The 2/3 cloture rule in the Senate enabled the slave states to fend off civil rights legislation and keep the black population in peonage for another century after the Union was reconstituted. For God's sake, Lincoln defeated Douglas in the popular vote in 1858 following their historic debates, but Douglas was reelected by the Democratic Illinois legislature. Will was weaned on a quince and knows a lot less American history (and everything else) than he pretends to.

Posted by: Jim Burt on February 22, 2009 at 11:45 PM | PERMALINK

In today's Post there is a fear-mongering article about ecomigration: people migrating because of climate change. How dare the Post print such crap. Obviously George Will has debunked Climate Change and who would know better than a beltway pundit. He is an EXPERT. He even wrote a book on BASEBALL! He completely refuted the climate scientists' arguments (although he did have to completely misquote their arguments but that's ok because he is a writer and he gets what's called poetic license which means he's allowed to just make shit up). So which is it Post? Coming apocalypse or time to forget it all and take in a double-header?


Posted by: Remus on February 23, 2009 at 2:42 AM | PERMALINK

Not "errors." Call them what they were: lies. If a student did what Will did in school, he or she would be failed, and, quite possibly, be put on academic probation.

Posted by: John Tomas on February 23, 2009 at 9:26 AM | PERMALINK



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