But What About the Pundits?

by David Weigel

It's really beating a path through the blogosphere today, but torgive me if I find this Washington Post feature on "conservative pundits renouncing Bush" incredibly silly. It makes sense for a paper covering the beltway to count the number of words Norman Podhoretz, George Will and the White House strategic initiatives office have churned out in an intra-movement Super Soaker fight. It makes less sense to impart great lessons from the tenor of the debate in DC.

Bush aides were bothered by a George F. Will column last week mocking neoconservative desires to transform the Middle East: "Foreign policy 'realists' considered Middle East stability the goal. The realists' critics, who regard realism as reprehensibly unambitious, considered stability the problem. That problem has been solved."

The White House responded with a 2,432-word rebuttal -- three times as long as the column -- e-mailed to supporters and journalists. "Mr. Will's kind of 'stability' and 'realism' -- a kind of world-weary belief that nothing can be done and so nothing should be tried -- would eventually lead to death and destruction on a scale that is almost unimaginable," wrote White House strategic initiatives director Peter H. Wehner.

What a waste of the White House's (by extension, taxpayers') time and money. Bush doesn't need pundits' votes to hold onto Congress. He needs the votes of disaffected moderates and Republicans who are fed up with the Iraq War and the entire situation in the Middle East. They'll never see a two-and-a-half grand rebuttal to George Will. They're paying attention to army and National Guard units being shipped overseas to referee conflicts between (as they see it) ungrateful, violent factions. I'm sure the WH press shop is giggling at Pat Buchanan's latest brimstone deposit, but I guarantee if they ripped his message off wholesale they'd get further than they're getting with their War on Pundits.