A BIT MORE ON BEAUCHAMP. As I understand the story right now, TNR appears to have verified the overwhelming bulk of his story, while the military says they can't verify it. Given that the incentives for both institutions are to prove exactly what they've proven, I'm not precisely sure who to believe. There are also rumors of a recantation out there, but no such document has actually been obtained, and you'd think that it would be released in some formal manner, rather than leaked to the Weekly Standard's blogger (I do love Brian's title though: "The Weekly Standard Tries Its Hand at Reporting.).
If Beauchamp is indeed a liar, I'll be surprised, but nor particularly concerned. There are, in fact, liars out there. And there are also cruelties in Iraq. The response of the Left on Beauchamp is entirely -- and maybe embarrassingly -- a counter-reaction to the obvious bad faith of his critics.
The Weekly Standard in particular, and war supporters in general, have never struck me as particularly concerned with factual accuracy. The energy the Right has expended on disproving Beauchamp's claims has dwarfed the energy they expended tracking down the hollowness of the lies that took us to war. The anger they've expressed over his misremembering which base he was at when he mocked a disfigured woman is considerable, whereas the anger they expressed when Bush misrepresented our fight in Iraq as primarily against a branch of al Qaeda has been entirely absent. They were willing to destroy this guy, expose his personal life, dig through his poetry, anything to discredit his story. But when the lies were pro-war, they've been exactly as dogged -- see the embarrassing ouvre of Stephen Hayes -- in protecting the falsehoods.
What we have here, at the end of the day, is not an appetite for accuracy or a concern for the truth, but a cynically motivated feeding frenzy meant to discredit an upsetting op-ed. If Beauchamp is a liar -- and I'm not convinced he is -- he should be drummed out of the publishing world. But this selective outrage over untruths and merely occasional thirst for accuracy is quite scary. We're currently embroiled in a war where the lies have killed thousands and thousands of people. But the only falsehoods the Right appears to be concerned about are the personal anecdotes of a young soldier.
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