Thursday, August 25, 2005

Why we write

I hesitate to put up a link which is closer to the subject matter of a proper blog than a "watch" site, but if you think that this is completely irrelevant to the subject of David Aaronovitch, you're wrong.

Update: No not the Hitchens bit, you predictable bastards. This bit:

Thomas L. Friedman: The Enabler

In some ways, the well-known New York Times columnist doesn’t fit with the others on this list. A neoliberal rather than a neoconservative, Friedman never drank all the Kool-Aid. But he was a vital -- perhaps the vital -- enabler of the war, because from his Times perch, he convinced many a reader (elite and layperson alike) who never would have been persuaded by the likes of Kristol that the war needed to be fought.

Nick Cohen sometimes veers into Hitchens territory ("I am the columnar expression of the World Spirit and the Universal Will To Power and anyone who disagrees with me, including me five minutes ago, is a miserable amoral wretch who must be crushed"), but Aaro is straight up and down a salesman. The only constant in his columns is sales; the only variation is whether this week's special offer is on overseas adventurism, domestic authoritarianism or holidays in Brunei.

Also: This too, thanks to an anonymous commentor. By the way, anonymous commentors, if you select the "Other" option in our comments system you can give yourself a nickname and it will be a lot easier to keep track of who said what.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great find - I doubt that the Harryettes will ever link to it. There's definitely a book in the making on the pro-war left's mistakes on Iraq, or at least an article on the UK writers who called it wrong (DA, Cohen, Johann Hari, William Shawcross for starters). This is the quote that sums it up for me: 'Friedman’s foolishness seems rooted in an almost willed ignorance of the figures in the Bush administration and the worldviews that defined them.' It makes a fitting epitaph for most of the pro-war left.

8/25/2005 10:21:00 AM  
Blogger Matthew said...

I was thinking something similar. When Aaro said,

Again, it would be preferable if an invasion could be undertaken, not by the Americans, but by, say, the Nelson Mandela International Peace Force, spearheaded by the Rowan Williams British Brigade. That's not on offer. It has to be the Yanks.

it got lots of admiring links from the Decent Left. But the problem since then has been that they have acted as if they actually believe it is the Nelson Int Peace Force who are in Iraq, pretending to themselves that the incompetent and unpleasant crew back in Washington are merely bit players.

8/25/2005 12:21:00 PM  
Blogger Matthew said...

The only other thing is do you think Dave's got that much clout? The NYT's circulation is far larger than the Observer's, and Friedman's columns reach a much wider audience through syndication. Dave's readers were basically the Bruschetta Left, and we know only about 50 or so of them actually bought the argument.

8/25/2005 12:54:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This article from The Nation (via the Guardian newsblog) is on a similar theme, re. the US Democrats. Compare the following from 'Gene' of the Harryettes (18/08/05): Is it really so hard for Bush to explain to the American people what's at stake and what will be required to achieve it; to admit mistakes, to fire Donald Rumsfeld and hold accountable others who have failed to perform effectively; and to ask for sacrifices from those who can most afford them, including himself?

Perhaps he really believes Mandela is the US President. Or that Gore won in 2000.

8/25/2005 12:58:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

matthew - there may indeed have only been 50, but perhaps, like fans of the Velvet Underground, they all went out and formed a band: i.e. they were probably pretty visible/vocal in support of the war. See also Ann Clwyd MP, whose concern for the Iraqis led her to support the war on human rights grounds, pretty much regardless of Bush and the aftermath of the war. (I don't blame her, but I do wonder whether she sometimes thinks she was used.)

8/25/2005 01:17:00 PM  
Blogger The Rioja Kid said...

Hmm I see what you're saying but Aaro isn't nobody; the Times wouldn't have paid up for him if he was. He does have a following, and I suspect that he might have provided the rationalisation for quite a few Blairite lobbyfodder types to get onside for the big debate. He carried a hell of a lot of water for the govt. on the subject of tuition fees too.

8/25/2005 01:57:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Hmm I see what you're saying but Aaro isn't nobody; the Times wouldn't have paid up for him if he was."

Does anybody else remember the story that DJs Mike Read and Steve Wright used to present a local radio breakfast show together, and some Radio 1 talent-spotter liked it and told his bosses to hire Steve Wright, and they went and got the wrong one.

I believe that the way newspapers tell if a columnist is doing OK is by counting the letters of complaint. In which case Madelaine Bunting and Seumas Milne ought to get a pay rise every time Norm posts.

8/25/2005 03:52:00 PM  
Blogger Former Labour Voter said...

Oh, I'd forgotten about Aaronovitchwatch, but just had a look at my own blog - which to be fair, even I don't read that often - and remembered you. It's good that you're still going strong even though he's on holiday, presumably with Mrs Aaronovitch and the little Aaronovitches.

You're right to say he has a following eg me. It's because he's readable even if you don't agree with him, likewise Hitchens and Cohen. I don't get the same impression from Tariq Ali or Seumas Milne - all that furious certainty is a bit off-putting for affable types like myself. Serious question: who in your view is the most likeable Stopper journalist?

8/25/2005 10:13:00 PM  
Blogger Sonic said...

"all that furious certainty is a bit off-putting for affable types like myself"

That is worth about 15 question marks, you see Hitchens and Cohen as shrinking violets, unsure of where they stand and looking at both sides of the argument?

8/26/2005 02:55:00 AM  
Blogger The Rioja Kid said...

"stopper journalist" is really a bit of a tautology these days; it's pretty hard for anyone to carve out a niche by being "the guy who thinks that Iraq was a hell of a silly mistake". Matthew Parris has been talking sense since day one though.

8/26/2005 10:33:00 AM  

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