The New York Times’ David Brooks has today’s must-read. What, Brooks asks, are Washington’s chattering classes talking about as Iraq and Najaf and Fallujah are possibly at a tipping point?
‘Well,’ writes Brooks, ‘for about three weeks the political class was obsessed by Richard Clarke and the hearings of the 9/11 commission, and, therefore, events that occurred between 1992 and 2001. Najaf was exploding, and Condoleezza Rice had to spend the week preparing for testimony about what may or may not have taken place during the presidential transition.’

And then Bob Woodward’s new book hit the stands….

‘[F]or the past 10 days,’ notes Brooks, ‘all of Washington has been kibitzing over the contents of Bob Woodward’s latest opus, which largely concerns events that happened between 2001 and 2003. Did President Bush eye somebody else’s dinner mint at a meeting? Was Colin Powell in the loop on Iraq? When did Bush ask the Pentagon to draw up war plans?’

Why is Washington’s opinion class so mired in the past when the present is so fraught with peril?

Because, Brooks writes, ‘It’s harder to be a smart aleck about the future, especially in regards to Najaf and Falluja, where none of the choices are good ones. Do the Baathists win a victory every day they hold off our siege? Or if we take them out now, do we undermine Sistani? We Klieg Light Kierkegaards will give you the right answer — three years from now, after whatever option the president takes has been judged and found wanting.

‘Some people in other places may like to look through keyholes to see women in their underwear. We here in the political class like to look through keyholes to see what happens when a bunch of alpha males (and females) with the jobs we wish we held sit around a table and curse about people not in the room. After two years of Iraq obsession, many of us couldn’t tell you what the Dawa Islamic Party stood for if our kids’ Sidwell admissions depended upon it, but the frisson we feel hearing the nasty words Colin Powell said behind the back of Douglas Feith! C’est d’licieux!’
With Ambassador Joseph Wilson’s books slated to appear momentarily, there is no end in sight.