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Friday, April 15, 2005

David Brooks and the Tooth Fairy

I seem to have a policy of commenting on Brooks' columns. I didn't actually manage to force myself to read the latest. I got as far as

But it is ridiculous to say he [John Bolton] doesn't believe in the United Nations. This is a canard spread by journalists who haven't bothered to read his stuff and by crafty politicians who aren't willing to say what the Bolton debate is really about.

Is Brooks suggesting that Bolton's critics claim that he doesn't believe in the UN in the same way that I don't believe in the tooth fairy ? That would be extreme although he did say "There is no United Nations." as Mr Brooks might have known if he had bothered to read the editorial published in the New York Times the day before his column. You know Mr Brooks, the editorials, those unsigned columns on the page facing the one where they publish yours.

Of course the view Brooks means to mock is the view that Bolton is opposed to the UN on principle and does not either wish to see it reformed or believe that it can be reformed. This view is plainly true. Bolton has clearly stated his opposition many times. When Brooks claims that this is a canard, he is simply lying.

Brooks could have claimed that Bolton has really changed his mind and is not just pretending to have done so to be confirmed. The dismissal of the view that he is opposed to the UN as such as "a canard spread by journalists who haven't bothered to read his stuff" is simply false. Many of the journalists covering the story have not read Bolton's stuff (I haven't either) but Brooks' clearly implies that no one who has read Bolton's stuff could believe it. He knows perfectly well that this is not true. I think that Brooks should be required to write a correction. I suppose it depends on your definition of "Canard" and "believe."

Now if Brooks had argued (as he might in the rest of the column) that Bolton has sincerely changed his mind, I would be unconvinced. There is no reason to consider anything Bolton said in his testimony to be sincere. The fact that Bolton claimed that he was misquoted (see the editorial again Mr Brooks) makes it clear that his testimony is dishonest. In fact, I personally think that the question now should not be if he should be sent to the UN but rather whether he should be sent to jail for perjury. The claims which should be examined by the Justice Department (fat chance of that) are "I in no sense sought to have any discipline imposed on him [Christian Westermann]." his claim that "Jack" Pritchard was unwilling to implement Bush administration policies. If, as claimed by Carl Ford and Pritchard, these sworn statements to the Senate foreign relations committee are lies rather more important than a lie about a blow job to lawyers representing a former receptionist for the Arkansas state development corporation.

Oh and speaking of the tooth fairy. He (or she) might not exist, but in spite of that disadvantage, I think that he (or she) would make a better UN ambassador than Bolton and a better columnist than David Brooks.

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