WAS SADDAM A PAPER TIGER?….Even by his usual standards, this piece by Glenn Reynolds last week was remarkably self-serving:

Totalitarian regimes always give the appearance of strength. In part this is because totalitarian regimes live and die by appearances….

You’d think that journalists and intellectuals, who as a class pride themselves on the ability to look beyond appearances to substance, would be the last ones to be fooled by totalitarian bluster. But, again and again, they’ve fallen for the appearance of strength, while disdaining the messiness of bourgeois, commercial, free Western civilization. Why are they so easily fooled? I can’t help but feel that it’s because many of them, at some level, want to believe in the power of tyranny.

For the past year, it’s been Glenn and the pro-war forces that have been unceasing proponents of the idea that Saddam Hussein’s regime was a mortal threat to the Middle East, the United States, and the world at large. The anti-war forces, by and large, argued that 12 years of sanctions had left him weak and not much of a threat to anyone. So who was fooled?

This week Glenn seems to have completed his transformation into the Rush Limbaugh of the blogosphere. Like the piece above, in which he “can’t help but feel” that journalists and intellectuals are really motivated by sympathy with murderous dictators, Instapundit has turned into an orgy of innuendo and name calling, with anti-war activists saddened because they “didn’t get the oceans of civilian blood [they] wanted,” smug remarks about how the BBC “has shot itself in the foot” simply for reporting the looting in Baghdad that everyone is reporting now, and snide comments about scare-quoted “neocons,” as if these folks don’t really exist and it’s shocking to suppose that anyone has ever wanted this war to expand beyond Iraq.

Glenn’s schtick has always been a bitter and cynical one, but the end of the war seems to have been a watershed for him. Like Rush with his “stack of stuff,” Instapundit has turned into nothing more than a clearinghouse for bile, with post after endless post explaining that anyone who disagrees with him is really motivated by a seething hatred of America and a desire to see everything that is good and true torn limb from corrupt limb. The level of rage and contempt that it takes to continue extracting pleasure from banging out this kind of stuff on a daily basis baffles me.