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August 23, 2007

The Clerisy Did Its Job Yesterday
Posted by Ilan Goldenberg

Atrios and Matt owe the clerisy an apology.  Matt writes

In particular, a bipartisan, yet also non-partisan, group of experts would be a useful thing to have on hand if, for example, both the President of the United States and a leading Republican candidate for President were to endorse a lunatic revisionist view of the Vietnam War. Members of this clerisy, Democrat and Republican alike, could set the country straight on the facts.  Then I was going to observe that the clerisy we have has done no such thing and has, in fact, stayed utterly silent on this small question that happens to rest at the center of the Bush administration's justification of its policies.

In fact, that's exactly what they did.  Ten minutes after the President's speech ended yesterday 40 reporters from many of the key mainstream media outlets got on a press call sponsored by the National Security Network with with General John Johns, General Robert Gard, Rand Beers, Larry Korb and Steven Simon (Of the hated Council on Foreign Relations).  For over an hour these experts took the time to explain to the press why the President's comparison to Vietnam was bull.

Afterward a press release with a summary of their comments went out to reporters and editorial boards across the country.  The comments were all over the MSM yesterday as the main response to the President's speech.  See AP, WSJ, NY Times, to name just a few. Try google news on any one these five guys and you will find that just about every major media outlet had a quote from them in the Bush's speech story saying how the President's Vietnam analogy was wrong.

These stories don't write themselves.  There is a reason the speech got trashed yesterday  by the media and the clerisy had a great deal to do with that.

I'm not saying the clerisy is always right.  There are many problems.  But in this case they did exactly what they were supposed to do and exactly what Matt asked of them.

Update:  A nice response from Matt.


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Nothing from Brookings, though. Or Anne Marie Slaughter. Or those Truman project people. Or Ikenberry... I know, I know, some of you tried. That's good. Get more of your friends involved.

But Mike, be fair -- those aren't rapid response people or institutions. There were *plenty* of people involved. Anne Marie just moved to China for a year, and she's the Dean of a graduate program, not a political operative. Brookings doesn't do day-of responses. Neither does the Truman Project. The people who do this stuff did it yesterday, and they did it well.

Should more people be doing it? Yes, absolutely. But you'll always be able to call out random people who didn't participate on a specific day or event.

In this case, it's time to give credit where credit is due.

You don't think Anne Marie Slaughter is a political operative? She can practically taste the National Security Adviser job if the right Democrat gets elected. She's certainly angling for it.

Anyway, you're right and I do credit and thank the people here who stood up and did it quickly.


I'd love to get more of our friends involved. Problem is we're still pretty small and need a bigger staff and more resources to do more things. So, how about you get more of your friends to donate and we'll get more of our friends involved. :)

Clever, Ilan! Clever! How about this, for now you can have my traffic, links and participation... As I get to know you all better, maybe some money or maybe not. I'm still not sure we're all on the same side, though you are a friendly bunch.

Sounds like a good deal Mike.

I'm glad that the foreign policy clique can actually read history books. Or at least have a passing understanding of Graham Greene, and perhaps, the Best and the Brightest (WHOOPS! That was a previously devastating critique of foreign policy 'experts').

OK, I'm getting snarky again. Sorry. Yes, pats on the head all around. Nice work!

The thing is Ilan, this kind of thing is proof of the same 'clerisy's' abject failure over the current disastrous war we're in. See you can't showcase the Foreign Policy Establishment's rapid response yesterday without acknowledging the lack of anything resembling that pushback during the Iraq argument.

The few out front on the matter, Scowcroft, Beers, Clarke, etc. were clearly not supported by the same rapid response messaging you're trying to show off here.

Having a success here simply shows HOW in the bag most of you were when it really mattered.

Jay B. You are right. The FPC failed on this function in 2003. Part of the reason was that there was no rapid response mechanism for the FPC back then. One of the reasons we created the National Security Network was to specifically combat that problem and get these folks to fight back and do the type of responses we did yesterday. We've been consistently doing that for the past year.

Check out some of our stuff.

The Clerisy did its job once since this war began. The call for an apology from Matt and Atrios is unfounded.

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