Monday, January 8, 2007

Reading: Krugman on "The Quagmire of the Vanities"

Posting's been light the last few days, because I've got one of those head colds that immediately knocks about 15 points of your IQ, and a cough that makes you feel like your gym teacher just made you do 100 sit-ups. Medication is doing its thing, but things may still be slow around here for another day or two.

But I couldn't let this go by unremarked, if only to share the joy of Krugman's title. Damn, I wish I'd thought of that.

The upshot is that the Bush administration and its dwindling posse of supporters have left us with a nasty choice:
The only real question about the planned "surge" in Iraq - which is better described as a Vietnam-style escalation - is whether its proponents are cynical or delusional.

Senator Joseph Biden, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, thinks they're cynical. He recently told The Washington Post that administration officials are simply running out the clock, so that the next president will be "the guy landing helicopters inside the Green Zone, taking people off the roof."

Daniel Kahneman, who won the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Science for his research on irrationality in decision-making, thinks they're delusional. Mr. Kahneman and Jonathan Renshon recently argued in Foreign Policy magazine that the administration's unwillingness to face reality in Iraq reflects a basic human aversion to cutting one's losses - the same instinct that makes gamblers stay at the table, hoping to break even. […]

I began writing about the Bush administration's infallibility complex, the president's Captain Queeg-like inability to own up to mistakes, almost a year before the invasion of Iraq. When you put a man like that in a position of power - the kind of position where he can punish people who tell him what he doesn't want to hear, and base policy decisions on the advice of people who play to his vanity - it's a recipe for disaster.

If this were just Krugman doing a little dance after four years of being called "shrill"--and far worse--for being dead right about Bush's war from the beginning, I'd think it was a fun read myself but I wouldn't bother you with it.

There's more, including this odd little teaser:
[A]m I the only person to notice that after all the Oedipal innuendo surrounding the Iraq Study Group - Daddy's men coming in to fix Junior's mess, etc. - Mr. Bush turned for advice to two other sons of famous and more successful fathers?
Krugman's piece--not at all a victory dance, really--is going onto the Readings list in the side bar.

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