ABOUT TIME. I finally got around to reading today's New York Times op-eds, and I have only one thing to say to Paul Krugman: "Thank you." Can we all please stop treating the neocons like serious people now? Also, in a media environment that rewards people for being provocatively wrong rather than quietly right, can we finally recognize that those who prefer attention over attentiveness are not serious actors, but clowns? Just because someone has a strong conviction, a lot of self-confidence, and some area studies knowledge does not make that person a serious thinker. It makes them dangerous. Writes Krugman:

Today we call them neoconservatives, but when the first George Bush was president, those who believed that America could remake the world to its liking with a series of splendid little wars � people like Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld � were known within the administration as �the crazies.� Grown-ups in both parties rejected their vision as a dangerous fantasy....

Would the current crisis on the Israel-Lebanon border have happened even if the Bush administration had actually concentrated on fighting terrorism, rather than using 9/11 as an excuse to pursue the crazies� agenda? Nobody knows. But it�s clear that the United States would have more options, more ability to influence the situation, if Mr. Bush hadn�t squandered both the nation�s credibility and its military might on his war of choice...

Few if any of the crazies have the moral courage to admit that they were wrong. Vice President Cheney continues to insist that his two most famous pronouncements about Iraq � his declaration before the invasion that we would be �greeted as liberators� and his assertion a year ago that the insurgency was in its �last throes� � were �basically accurate.�

But if the premise of the Bush doctrine was right, why are things going so badly?

The crazies respond by retreating even further into their fantasies of omnipotence. The only problem, they assert, is a lack of will.

William Kristol's recommendation that Bush go to Jerusalem to stand with Israel in its bombing campaign against Lebanon is insane. There really is no other way to describe it. It shows a complete lack of regard for the lives of Americans stationed in Iraq, who would certainly bear the brunt of Shiite rage at such an act, and it would destroy for decades any mediating role the United States could play in the Arab-Israeli conflict. But a person who treats foreign policy -- who treats grave matters of life and death and the survival of nations -- with the same ethos as a television talk show, where the wildest position is always the best one, is a person no serious person should feel a need to treat with respect. I'm sure Kristol knows very well that America's president would never be fool enough to follow his flamboyant advice, even if he acts hurt at the rejection.

Other neocons, who are even greater true believers, are upset that the president is not pushing for a new and expanded war (which, I might add, our military cannot easily conduct, given its current commitments). Angry at having to let go of their grandiose, world-historical fantasies, they have taken to calling into question the president�s convictions, treating him now as one of those little men that is buffeted by history. Last night I watched (with satisfaction, I must admit) as Frank Gaffney and others on CNN questioned whether Bush was turning into a wimp. After seeing so many sensible and serious Americans thus tarnished over the past six years of partisan bitterness, the schadenfreude was delicious. What happens when you lie down with dogs and all that.

--Garance Franke-Ruta

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