Wolfowitz: We Were Wrong


Not exactly news, but everything you might want to know about how we got into this situation.


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  1. A picture is worth a thousand words.

  2. Boy, this must be the day for recycled jokes. Apis’ crack about the *Times* was originally told on the *New York Post* in the early ’60s, when it was still a liberal paper. The imaginary headline: “Blizzard Hits New York: Blacks, Jews Suffer Most.”

  3. Is the whole SOTU address essentially one long series of Dowdisms?

  4. Dowdism says:

    If you recite the dictionary, you have said all there is to say. You have made every conceivable argument from all possible sides and countered with all available responses.

    Or is that Taoism?

  5. “everything you might want to know about how we got into this situation.”

    I can’t believe a libertarian, especially one who knows the limitations of mainstream journalism, would say that the Washington Post has “everything” on a story.

  6. The Washington Post provided a simplified and distorted picture of what Wolfowitz said, and then Reason provided a simplified and distorted picture of what the Washington Post wrote.

    Two steps back, please. Wolfowitz’s transcript.

  7. If Wolfie et al were consistently more upfront about the challenges, it wouldn’t be such a shock when their statements reflect reality. Reporters are naturally going to pick out “admissions” when all they get are reams of PRspeak.

    It’s funny that you link to the transcript because it reads like this: platitude, boring anecdote, platitude, empty platitude, admission of guilt, platitude…

    That’s not to say that the Bushies shouldn’t toot their own horn, but the bad news has to be spread out. As it stands, it’s a series of defensive, suspicious denials followed by a big admission.

    How long did it take to admit there is an organized resistance? When they finally came around to saying it, the press had already defined the attacks as “guerilla” and therefore easily conflated with “quaqmire.”

    Despite all the claims of the Bushies’ brilliant message management, that’s pretty gol darned stupid.

  8. Taylor’s got to be joking. Could any semi-literate person read the transcript and sum it up as “Wolfowitz: We Were Wrong”? Even the Post story doesn’t say that.

  9. Sven, I don’t agree that the transcript is full of platitudes, though I guess one man’s substance is another man’s platitude. And when he acknowledges some of their expectations were wrong, it’s not exactly an ‘admission of guilt.’

  10. Sven,

    Wolfowitz seems to be, um, favoring his ass a little in that prison picture. What’s the significance?

  11. I’m just saying that’s how a reporter who’s looking for “news” hears it, especially when every instance of “substance” is prefaced by words like”incredible,” “stunning”and “outstanding.”

    And I’m saying that reveals a fundamental lack of media literacy and it’s often mislabled as a partisan slant. You can get away with those rhetorical tactics in times of national crisis, when patriotism is running thick in everyone’s blood.

    But any other time, reporters are looking for man bites dog. If you present reporters 10 positive yet important items, but couch them like you’re trying to blow sunshine up their asses, and 1 item that contradicts what you’ve been saying for 6 weeks, what do you think is going to be the lede?

    The same concept applies to press conferences in general. If you offer nothing but dog and pony shows
    for months on end then suddenly decide to “tell it like it is,”the press will conclude that you’re confessing to something.

    And reporters, who feel like you’ve been treating them like 5 year olds, have little incentive not to stick it to you. On the other hand, if they feel like you’ve been generally straight with them, they might cut you some slack. Hell, you don’t even have to be that straight with them ? just crack a self-depricating joke once in a while.

    Wolfie’s obsession with transcripts doesn’t lend itself to this give-and-take. Basically, he’s saying “I don’t trust you fuckers to report what I say.”

    Yes, he has good reason not to trust them. But as this story makes clear ? the transcripts and attempt at message discipline aren’t solving that problem.

  12. Kevin, I guess you have to be in the right ? I mean left ? frame of mind. Think G. Gordon Liddy.

    I know it’s a cheap shot, but it’s all I can afford.

  13. Sven, I can’t speak for Wolfowitz’s handling of the press in general, but I don’t understand what you mean by ‘Wolfie’s obsession with transcripts doesn’t lend itself to this give-and-take.’ I’m the one who linked to the transcript here. Wolfowitz hasn’t been posting to Hit & Run.

  14. Come on, Ken. If you’ve been following Wolfie at all over the past 18 months, you know he’s anal retentive about people mangling his quotes, parsing his words and delineating whats on and off the record. I remember a lot of “check out the transcripts” during the “bureaucratic reasons” hubub. I’m too lazy to hunt down a link, but I’m fairly certain the “DefenseLink” transcripts were Wolfowitz’s idea.

    Again, he’s got every reason to gripe, as does anyone who deals with the press. But someone who spends so much time polishing apples shouldn’t be surprised when reporters spend their time pointing out the blemishes.

    One might think that a transcript is the antidote to being taken out of context, but it’s the exact opposite. A transcript makes it easy for journalists to engage in their favorite pastime ? looking for contradictions.

    Reporters love them even more than lies. They love to put two disparate quotes next to each other in a story then wait for the subject to try to explain themselves, generating even more contradictions. It makes for an easy series as the subject digs himself into a hole ? look at the Uranium flap. Ironically, Wolfie thinks he defeats this game with his transcripts, when he’s actually encouraging it.

    More important than the transcript thing is the balance. If he’d mixed in more realism with his vision statements over the past year, Wolfowitz would be in a position to say “I told you guys it was going to be a bitch, anything worth doing is,”and still be able to point to signs of progress. It doesn’t help that he had other administration jerkweeds predicting “cakewalks,” which fair or not is also being laid at Wolfie’s feet.

  15. As an example of how a reporter can easily turn a transcript into a house of mirrors, let’s check out this CNN transcript

    MARIA RESSA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You were recently quoted as saying that the weapons of mass destruction in Iraq was more of a bureaucratic decision to go in. Do you want to respond to that?

    PAUL WOLFOWITZ, DEP. DEFENSE SECRETARY: No, that’s a misquote, in fact I believe the full quote actually you can see on our Web site where the full interview is there.

    Loosen up that sphincter, Wolfie, or you’ll never get ahead.

  16. so wolfowitz is an asshole because he wants to be quoted accurately?

  17. …about three assumptions. So how many assumptions were not wrong?

  18. Niiiice Dowdification. Hey, here’s another one, from a recent Jeff A. Taylor post:

    “I…blow…Iraqi fighters and…big…U.S. troops.”

    Yep, nothing like the sober analysis we get here from the fine minds at Reason.

  19. How about a paste of the money quote, Jeff, for those of us who don’t want to fill in the info for a Washington Post “loyalty card”?

  20. Since we are playing pick the quote here’s one:

    “The entire south and north are impressively stable, and the center is getting better day-by-day. The public food distribution is up and running. There is no food crisis. I might point out we planned for a food crisis; fortunately, there isn’t one. Hospitals nationwide are open. Doctors and nurses are at work. Medical supply convoys are escorted to and from the warehouses. We planned for a health crisis; there isn’t one. Oil production has passed the 1 million barrels per day mark. We planned for the possibility of massive destruction of this resource of the Iraqi people; we didn’t have it.
    The school year has been salvaged. Schools nationwide have reopened and final exams are complete. There are local town councils in most major cities and major districts of Baghdad, and they are functioning free from Ba’athist influence.”

    Not from the story, but from his original talk. These are only a few more things they were wrong about. Of course, it should be noted that this is only a portion of the talk, not the whole thing.

    If you don’t want to give the WP your info, just use the year and zip they give in their examples. As for M/F, just flip a coin.

  21. On a related note, the photos of the dead boys have been up for less than an hour at CNN, and already have been alterred. The first Uday shot was quite dark initially, and now has been lightened considerably. It makes the face more identifiable, but didn’t time catch shit for darkening the face of OJ? Since it was claimed they were trying to demonize OJ, does this mean CNN is trying to angelicize Uday?



  22. Nice headline Jeff. It’s good to know that in these troubled times, somebody is willing to stand up and speak the truth to power…

    Unfortunately, that somebody isn’t you.

    Your headline is reminiscent of the joke about the NY Times headline on the day the world is to end:

    “World Ends: Women, Minorities, Children, Hardest Hit”

  23. Vaughn, does that mean we can now leave?

  24. Not at all Lefty. Stick around and post your own quote. Hell, it doesn’t even have to be from Wolfowitz if that’s not to your fancy. Hit and Run doesn’t literally mean you have to go.

  25. The untouched version of the photos can be seen at canada.com, at least for now.


  26. Very insightful, Sven.

  27. EMAIL: nospam@nospampreteen-sex.info
    URL: http://preteen-sex.info
    DATE: 05/20/2004 05:00:14
    People are exponentially funnier when they’re in rant mode.

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