An argument that judgment matters but knowledge does not is profoundly anti-intellectual. It implies that we do not need ever to learn anything in order make mature decisions. We can just proceed off some simple ideological template and apply it to everything. This sort of thinking is part of what is wrong with this country. We wouldn't call a man in to fix our plumbing who knew nothing about plumbing, but we call pundits to address millions of people on subjects about which they know nothing of substance.Amen. Although I must admit that like Goldberg I haven't read very many books on Iraq either. But unlike him I tend to defer to people (like Cole) who have. That counts for something, no? Cole goes on:
Goldberg is hoping to Kerryize me because my position on the war can't be reduced to a sound bite. I don't really care. I'm not running for office and I'm not making any money to speak of from this punditry gig. If people can't imagine that you can hate Saddam and also think a unilateral war and long-term occupation of an Arab country are bad ideas, that is their problem.If only there were more people like Cole out there. But no, instead we get people like Jonah Goldberg:
Cranky rich people hire sharp-tongued and relatively uninformed young people all the time and put them on the mass media to badmouth the poor, spread bigotry, exalt mindless militarism, promote anti-intellectualism, and ensure generally that rightwing views come to predominate even among people who are harmed by such policies.UPDATE: One more round. It took me a second or two to understand Cole's outrage at Goldberg's last proposal, but then I got it.
Serious critics of the Iraqi war (I'd like to think I'm one of them) don't think that getting rid of Saddam was a bad thing or that Iraqis are now destined for civil war. I for one just think a wiser, slower and more multilateral approach would have produced a better outcome with less suffering on the part of Iraqis and the families of US soldiers. That will be true even if Iraq turns out to be a model of democracy and tolerance in 10 years.