Friday, September 9, 2011

Krauthammer outdoes himself

Every time I think Charles Krauthammer cannot possibly write anything worse than the column he has just written, he surprises me: he writes something worse.

His column denying that the War on Terror was an overreaction to 9/11 contains the classic elements of a baseless argument: straw men, irrelevant rhetorical flourishes, and bad historical analogies. The analogies to World War II are especially ludicrous. He implies that "we" defeated al-Qaeda in the present period just as "we" defeated the Axis powers in World War II.

Just a couple of little problems with this: World War II was a conflict against an enemy far more formidable than al-Qaeda, and it was one which demanded some kind of sacrifice from huge swaths of the population. WW2 was fought by an army -- or I should say armies -- of conscripts, of draftees; the WoT has been fought by armies of professional soldiers, in the case of the U.S. increasingly separated from the population, and whose sacrifices have not been shared by the population at large.

Krauthammer points out that the financial collapse and Great Recession were not caused by the War on Terror. I don't know of anyone who claims they were. Krauthammer is taking statements that the WoT "bankrupted" the country a bit too literally; there are different kinds of bankruptcy, as anyone as well acquainted with the English language as Krauthammer must realize.

Most damagingly for Krauthammer's argument, the invasion of Iraq toppled an ugly regime to be sure, but one which had nothing to do with 9/11. If that doesn't constitute an overreaction, then the word has no meaning.

Krauthammer is an intelligent person who writes stupid things. There must be a name for this phenomenon, but if there isn't, then maybe it's time to coin a new verb: to Krauthammer.


e julius drivingstorm said...

You're on to something there. Let's try it in a sentence:

Jonah Goldberg krauthammered
the left with his tome Liberal Fascism.

And, since I seem to have been moderately successful using the HTML tags, I'll try to edit your buried lede:

"Krauthammer is an intelligent person who writes stupid things - on purpose."


LFC said...

I did sort of bury the lede, didn't I? (Btw "lede" crept into the language while I wasn't paying attention, I guess. Happened a while ago.)

George Will, incidentally, has a column now at WaPo on the 9/11 10th anniversary that is less objectionable than Krauthammer's -- not that I agree with everything Will says in it.