Credibility counts

CREDIBILITY COUNTS…. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) went on quite a tirade earlier, condemning President Obama for failing to impose a no-fly zone over Libya, and insisting that the existing U.S. policy would prove to be a long-term disaster.

“Their refusal to act will go down as one of the great mistakes in American foreign-policy history and will have dire consequences for our own national security in the years to come,” Graham said of Obama administration officials.

Reading the condemnation, I kept thinking, “And Lindsey Graham is credible, why?” Indeed, when the Republican senator whines about this being “one of the great mistakes in American foreign-policy history,” is Graham simply not remembering the great mistakes of American foreign-policy history that he was a cheerleader for?

Tom Ricks wants the U.S. to intervene on behalf of Libyan rebels, but considers the U.S. invasion of Iraq a “disastrous move … that will cost us for decades to come.” He then reported today:

So it was with very mixed feelings that I read a letter urging President Obama to act, and saw it signed by so many of those people who urged us into Iraq.

It’s quite a list, featuring names that will no doubt be familiar: John Podhoretz, Randy Scheunemann, Paul Bremer, Robert Kagan, Dan Senor, Elizabeth Cheney, Bill Kristol, Marc Thiessen, and many others who share their worldview.

Ricks added, “My guess is that this line-up actually will make people reconsider whether intervening is a good idea. So the letter is likely to have the opposite of the effect its signers intended.”

I certainly hope so. I realize it’s intellectually lazy to simply outsource one’s judgment on major questions, and assume that imposing a no-fly zone over Libya is a bad idea just because Kristol, Cheney, Thiessen, et al, think it’s a good idea.

Still, if it doesn’t give you pause, you’re not paying close enough attention to recent history. Credibility counts, and these folks don’t have any.

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Steve Benen

Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.