In the Ideology of the Center, Both Sides Are Always Equally to Blame

Gideon Rose at the Economist offers a series of false characterizations about the substance of the criticism of the media and of foreign policy experts that people like Glenn Greenwald and Matthew Yglesias have been making.  He claims that the netroots have extreme and rigid views about one issue and one issue alone— Iraq.

First off, the main aspect of the criticism is, as I wrote on his earlier post, “the problem with the way the discussion operates within the community, and how it sometimes stigmatizes, rather than engages, arguments that are outside the norm.”  In response, Rose writes that his critics are a bunch of hotheaded simpletons who think that rational discourse is futile.  Well, I guess he showed us.

What’s more, I think he’s wrong that the netroots think there is an obvious correct answer to the problem in Iraq.  While the netroots, like the rest of the US, is quite sure that staying the course hasn’t been a boon to US or Iraqi security in the past five years, that doesn’t mean that all critics think the same thing about how and when to get out.

Also, as Matt Yglesias (and Atrios) point out, these Brahmins sure are in a tizzy about bloggers, even though it’s neoconservatives who are running the country, and in charge of the leading GOP campaign.  It’s strange that these process-based arguments— that the debate should be open to more voices and that facts should be heard— should rile Rose up quite a bit more than the prospect of bombing Iran.

At the YearlyKos discussion in which Greenwald participated, he said there was no problemwith Time running columns by Charles Krauthammer and William Kristol, but that there should be a reality-based columnist as well.  This doesn’t fit into Rose’s cartoon view of the debate, so he doesn’t mention it.

As to Rose’s point about hindsight bias, I hope he was able to read the most trenchant and concise presentation of arguments against the Iraq invasion made at the time.

I consider myself a centrist— look, there it is up in my title!— but that to me means carefully reviewing the facts and bearing in mind the truths of liberalism and conservatism.  It does not, to me, mean determinedly splitting the difference between whatever the two major parties happen to be up to at any given moment.  Especially given the current situation, where the netroots control nothing, whereas neoconservatives control America, it seems a bit strange to play the “both sides are to blame!” game with them as polar opposites.

Jay Rosen wrote about the ideology of the center, in which the extremes of both sides are equally to blame.  But that’s not always true.  Why should people who Greenwald characterizes as anti-imperialist never be heard?  Why should the foreign policy professionals be so reluctant to argue loudly against a proposed invasion?


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