Monday, March 24, 2008

Neil Steinberg: Correction

Long-time readers of this blog -- and Mr. Steinberg's column -- know that Neil can be an ass.

And while something asinine is bound to appear again in Mr. Steinberg's column -- probably before the week is out! -- we should all take some time to read his gutsy and honest reflection in the Sunday Sun-Times.

And to salute him for publicly manning-up to his mistake:
Last week, marking the fifth anniversary of the war in Iraq, Editor & Publisher looked back at what major American newspapers thought about the war when it began. A third were against it from the start. Two-thirds, however, including this newspaper, supported the war with varying degrees of enthusiasm.

That inspired me to see what I had had written about it five years ago. I knew I had been in favor of toppling Saddam Hussein. Remove a tyrant and an enemy, I thought. Use America's might for good.

But I didn't quite remember my stand-on-a-chair-and-whoop enthusiasm. I began, in January that year, by quoting Edmund Burke about how evil triumphs if good men do nothing, and sneering at peace protesters who, to be honest, didn't help their cause by being so far over the top -- they thought Bush was an idiot and a killer long BEFORE the war.

My initial post-war column went to bat for female soldiers -- the right-wing, anti-feminist crowd at home was questioning whether women should fight in combat. No shame there. Then, on April 11, I let loose a bleat of contentment over the situation that, frankly, has me shaking my head in amazement.

"How could you not be proud and happy?" I babbled, "very, very pleased" that the U.S. not only won but "we did it in high style."

I suppose I could try to mitigate the sin -- I wasn't alone in being gulled by this. And I did have a few doubts about "the moment of apparent victory." In that same column, I noted, "The war could linger on. Islamic fanatics, angered and humiliated to see the mighty Saddam crumple like a toddler hit by a cinderblock, could find new opportunities to inflict terror." But that's no excuse.

I'm a humorist at heart, a silly, inconsequential man who should limit himself to exploring candy factories and pig farms and shouldn't be allowed to comment on weighty public matters. Four thousand Americans soldiers -- and counting -- died because of that exact kind of lazy, smug, complacent, detached, Pollyannaish non-thinking.

The president might not have any regrets, but I do. I regret the error and apologize, for what little it's worth.
If this is what readers can expect when Neil turns his unforgiving eye upon himself, then Drunkard ought to be one hell of a read.

No comments:


Blog Archive