Return to The Sin Bin Mark Brown column

February 2 2005 at 7:13 AM
Octopus  (no login)
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The column you posted yesterday made quite an uproar, apparently. I guess it's just too bizarre for some people to comprehend, the idea that you can revise an opinion, based on new information. People are so dug-in, these days!

The lefty-columnist was forced to defend himself from outraged critics, while disavowing any real affinity for Bush-liking types. It's funny to watch him dance, here. Tee-hee. "The premise of war was still faulty"...yes, if only we had waited for the UN to complete its inspection-process, and asked Saddam nicely to stop massacring his people, and threatening his neighbors. Oh, well. Hind-sight is 20-20, as per usual.

What's so shocking about having second thoughts?

February 2, 2005


Let's pick up where I left off: It is highly unlikely that I will be voting Republican for president in 2008, no matter what happens in Iraq.

But my suggestion to the contrary was the only statement made in Tuesday's column, "What if Bush has been right about Iraq all along?", that I didn't sincerely mean.

I feel the need to offer that clarification because those who read this space regularly are familiar with my tendency toward sarcasm, but Tuesday's column reached a whole other level of readers out there in cyberspace who have never seen a Mark Brown column but took a surprisingly strong interest in my reaction to the Iraq elections.

For most of the day, their e-mails have been rolling in here at a rate of about four per minute -- which comes to 240 per hour. While that has tapered off as day turns to night, my new e-mail alert is still clicking every minute.

'You are an idiot'

I consider this mostly a nuisance because the bulk of the correspondence is from out-of-towners who don't buy the Chicago Sun-Times, in effect, drowning out the voice of the Chicago readers who pay for the privilege of letting me know how irritating they find my views.

I'll never find time to read all this mail, the mixed tenor of which can be judged from the subject headings: "The Dumbest Column Ever Written," "Your intellectual honesty an inspiration," "You are an idiot," "A profile in courage," "Craven sell-out," "You're totally right," "How naive can you be?" and "Hats off to you!" But I promise to try to print a batch later this week.

The reaction certainly has made for a most unusual day, the strangest part coming when I heard from family and friends that Rush Limbaugh was quoting from the column and remarking favorably about it.

Regular readers will find it shocking that I even have family or friends who listen to Limbaugh, but as the governor of Illinois can tell you, there is no accounting for family, and I have too few friends to let politics get in the way.

Premise of war was still faulty

As you might guess, Limbaugh is not one of my heroes, and it pains me to give him succor. I lean more toward Molly Ivins, who no doubt would have taken my Tuesday column and carved it to shreds while keeping a sense of humor about it, had she taken any notice at all.

So the attention makes me more than a little uncomfortable, and I'm still trying to figure out what to make of it as I fend off interview requests from bi-coastal radio talk show hosts and Fox News. And sure, I left out some important points such as the faulty premise on which the war was sold -- the old weapons of mass destruction.

This is no time for further waffling, however, so I stand behind what I wrote, the gist of which, if you're wondering what the fuss is about, was that the sight of Iraqis embracing their right to vote forced me to re-examine my views on the war and to seriously consider the possibility that President Bush will succeed with his Iraq strategy and was right to take us to war.

If you read the column, you'd know I didn't totally flip-flop, but I opened that door, which is apparently so unusual these days that it merited attention from Rush and the Drudge Report and an entire world that I rarely visit, as well as inspiring fellow liberals to want to drum me out of the corps.

Politics' sad state of affairs

I'm glad I wrote the column, though, even if I'm wrong, because it helped bring into focus something else that I've been wanting to say for a long time, which is that it's a sad state of affairs in our politics when people are so locked into being in one camp or the other that they can't review the evidence as it presents itself and adjust their thinking accordingly.

How else can you explain some local columnist with liberal intentions drawing so much interest just because he wondered aloud that maybe he had been wrong and that the other side had been right?

I don't ever want to be one of those columnists -- or commentators -- who just take all the information they receive and hammer it into their pre-conceived notion of the truth.

If I did, I'd do radio.

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