June 27, 2003

The Layman's Rule

Monday Morning Spooks by Hugh Hewitt.

Responding to Josh Marshall's continuing attempt to prove himself today's equal of Clinton toady Joe Conason, the level-headed Hugh Hewitt comes up with what is most likely a permanent truth in today's foreign policy assesments by American citizens:

I will leave it to the foreign policy mavens like Marshall to come up with a more precise standard, but I think the layman's rule is this: If the commander in chief perceives a significant risk of severe casualties to Americans, he uses whatever force is necessary to remove that risk. The forgery of documents related to purchases of uranium from Niger, or the lack of a detailed Baghdad hotel bill from Abu Musab Al Zarqawi, in no way detracts from the correctness of the president's assessment of all the evidence of risk. The attempt to impeach the president's conclusion by impeaching parts of his data set establishes a standard under which many future September 11s could never be prevented because of the distinction between "signals and noise in intelligence collection."
Hewitt is onto something here. In today's world of infinite information sources, influential people more and more seem ready to make up their own minds about political questions that matter to them. It would seem that the more access to pundits we have, the less influence the pundits have over the populace.

This is why last week's blather from Al Gore and associates over the need for more liberal voices and radio and television programs sounds as flat and boring and irrelevant as... well, Al Gore. Americans, in larger and larger quantities, no longer seek multiple opinions from numerous sources. They seek access to facts and are perfectly able to draw their own conclusions.

Of course, this means that what any political party needs to be able to do is to control The Factoid Factory. When you are in power, that's easier to do, and when you are out of power, it is almost impossible. Hence the growing frustration and hectoring tones found in places like Josh Marshall's Screed of the Day. The rise of the Internet has not only made it possible for Marshall to marshal his opinions, it has also made it possible for the Layman's Rules to bat last. Just hit the clicker or the back button. "They opine. You decide."

Posted by Vanderleun at June 27, 2003 8:03 AM
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