Tuesday, March 15, 2005

BlatherWatch: Tom Teepen

Click here for AmazonIt is through a lense of grim compassion that I view certain liberal pundits: Maureen Dowd and Richard Cohen, for instance. This pair is so committed to their litany of failed predictions that they'll stick with them no matter how far out of whack they may be.

But I feel a certain sympathy for them: at least they truly are committed, along with being sour and inane. Who can blame them? History hasn't treated either kindly and, given the momentum of the Administration's sweeping initiatives, it's only going to get worse for them.

Thus, I do feel a sort of compassion for them... much like I have for an organ-grinder's monkey at the circus. After all, Dowd and Cohen are the tiny monkeys sitting on the shoulders of the heavyweight op-ed writers on their respective newspapers. Like clockwork, you can expect the Dowds and Cohens of the world to chime in with -- no, not an original thought -- hamhanded attempts at humor sprinkled with their traditional Democratic groupthink. In perfect harmony with the fever swamp, both have achieved a track record of spectacular, flame-out-at-the-air-show-and-smash-into-the-tarmac-with-blazing-explosion failures.

Thus, one can't help but feel compassion, not only for their poor track record, but also for the plain fact that so few people even read them anymore.

Other liberal pundits are simply... not all there. Their driveways don't go all the way to the garage. A few sandwiches shy of a picnic. The elevator doesn't go all the way to the top floor. A guy like Tom Teepen comes to mind. He differs from the top-shelf liberal punditry on a couple of parameters: sheer ignorance, for one. A willingness to ignore reality. And, of course, astoundingly poor writing skills. Here's his latest gem, courtesy of Cox Newspapers. My comments are in bold.

Bush scores some early wins - By Tom Teepen - 03/15/05

President Bush guessed that the political tremors from unhorsing Saddam Hussein would crack brittle authoritarian regimes throughout the Muslim Middle East and hoped a democratic phoenix would rise from the rubble. So far the president is half right, and something is flapping around in the debris. The question is whether it is Bush's phoenix or a vulture.

A phoenix or a vulture? Hard to tell where this is going, Tom...

Iran holds out, a republic in name and a theocracy in practice, but movement elsewhere in the region is promising.

Libya has resigned its nuclear ambitions. Syria has pledged to remove its occupiers from Lebanon. Egyptian strongman Hosni Mubarak says he will admit other candidates in this fall's presidential voting, turning another empty referendum into an actual election. The Saudis have permitted local elections, though of course for boys only. Palestinians and Israelis are talking, albeit at arm's length.

A capitulation from Tom Teepen? After all of the years of flaming, poorly-written, anti-Bush rhetoric? Can it be happening? Someone pinch me.

Not all, and perhaps not even most of this change is Bush's doing.

There we go... that's the Tom Teepen I expect...

Pariah Libya had been dickering for years to get itself back into the international game, even before Iraq was a gleam in Bush's eye. The potential for an Israeli-Palestinian deal mainly occurs because Yasser Arafat finally had the good grace to die and because Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, who is turning out to be as hard-nosed in peace as in war, is committed to withdrawing from Gaza and is prepared to see a Palestinian state created there and in the West Bank.

Yes, it was all happening with or without President Bush, according to the deep-thinker... plans were already in motion... forces gathering... it was all just... just a coincidence, yes, that's it!

Syria has pledged before - most recently in 1989 - to quit Lebanon, only to balk when international attention strayed. For at least the next several weeks, Bashar Assad means to keep two-thirds of Syria's Lebanese forces in the eastern Bekka Valley, still close enough and large enough to be intimidating.

After the years of international failures in extricating Syria from Lebanon... now that the timeframe is weeks, Mr. Teepen still isn't gracious enough to extend credit to the Administration.

All that said, those of us who considered the Iraq adventure ill-conceived and ill-executed - and still think as much - nonetheless have to concede that it is partly responsible for shaking up the Mideast in ways that at least potentially could settle out for the better.

Partly responsible. Well, I guess it is hard to say in print, 'You know, for many years, I've been a blathering, partisan nincompoop... and completely wrong to boot. President Bush was right. I was too thick-headed to see it coming. I surrender... and hereby willingly sign up as a GOP fundraiser.'

But in every quarter, the potential for all of this to go awry is equally strong. Egypt's numerous small parties could splinter the opposition and let Mubarak romp to a mock legitimacy. Even if Assad keeps his word - big if - Lebanese politics could break down again into the sectarian fighting - Sunni, Christian, Druze - that fueled a 15-year civil war, and Shiite Hezbollah, with proven fighters and a ready infrastructure, is there to pick up the pieces. The gingerly Israeli-Palestinian pavane toward peace is ever vulnerable to terrorist sabotage.

There we go, Tom! Find the dark lining in the silver cloud... hoping against hope that the U.S. fails... excellent work!

And, of course, the relative success of the recent election in Iraq aside, the construction there of a credible, able government that reconciles Sunnis, Shia and Kurds - and all of that in the teeth of a stubborn insurgency - remains far short of certain.

Memo to self: Google Teepen's statements prior to the election. One would hope that you could give credit where credit is due... but that would be asking too much of a serial blatherer.

Bush has sensibly so far declined to crow. We can all hope for good outcomes, but apparently the president has learned from Iraq, if nothing else, that the Middle East has an unfortunate knack for turning even apparently accomplished missions into damnable problems.

Well, I guess this is as close to an admission of wrong-headedness that we'll get from Mr. Teepen. Just so long as he can continue to take no risks whatsoever and proclaim the Administration's failures whenever something, anything, goes wrong, Mr. Teepen's world will be just fine in his book. Thankfully, it's a book few read.

Tom Teepen: Bush scores some early wins

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