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This is not a joke, unfortunately. This is, for the record, how Washington insider journalists think. Roger Simon was after all, picked by the founders of The Politico -- the hottest place to be right now in covering American politics -- to be their marquee political columnist. Note the complete, total (I can't repeat myself enough here) lack of attention to the substance of Romney's positions here. Note the quotation of the pablum he puts up about Iraq, etc, as if it had any meaning whatever. Note the fact that as the candidate of the hard right, he is, ipso facto, in the post-Bush era, well outside the consensus of American politics as defined by voters right now. Note instead what this Insider's Insider finds important. For instance:

"So polished and looks so much like a president," and "chiseled-out-of-granite features, a full, dark head of hair going a distinguished gray at the temples, and a barrel chest," and "radiates vigor," and "can't wait to stand next to John McCain on a stage and invite comparison." Really, it's embarrassing to read, but it gets worse ...

Quotes of the Day, special Roger-Simon-Is-Impressed-by-Mitt-Romney Edition:

"I believe in God and I believe that every person in this great country, and every person on this grand planet, is a child of God. We are all sisters and brothers."

Runner-Up: " 'I believe we are overtaxed and government is overfed,' Romney said. 'Washington is spending too much money.' "

Second Runner-Up: "I believe the best days of this country are before us because I believe in America!"

Third Runner Up: " 'I believe that so long as there is a reasonable prospect of success, our wisest course is to seek stability in Iraq, with additional troops endeavoring to secure the civilian population,' Romney said."

Can you believe we are going to have to endure almost two years of this kind of crap?

Saying something twice don't make it true: This Jack Shafer story about how Bush's War on the Press is a figment of my (and other people's) imagination looks a lot like this Jack Shafer story about how Bush's War on the Press is a figment of my (and other people's) imagination, don't it? For the original classic, go here.

CNN's Reliable Sources host Howard Kurtz on Sunday wondered if the press had been "snookered" by the Pelosi-plane story. There was nothing confusing about the facts. The truth is the press propagated the phony Pelosi story because the press wanted to. Read more here.

A new report from the European Parliament details the extent of U.S. renditions of suspected terrorists, here.

From our sponsors: Does NBC's Campbell Brown want more American soldiers to die for nothing? If so, how many? I'm asking; maybe Obama should ask too.

Why are left-wing bloggers such nasty people? Letters to Pandagon, here. Andy Driggers from Dallas wrote:

Problem with women like you, you just need a good fu**ing from a real man! Living in Texas myself, I know you haven't found that real Texan yet. But once your liberal pro feminist ass gets a real good fu**ing, you might see the light. Until then, enjoy your battery operated toys b/c most real men wouldn't want to give you the fu**ing you deserve b/c the s**t that would come out of you ears.

Keep reading, it gets worse ...

From TomDispatch:

Every now and then, we need a little history to make sense of our world. But perhaps, in this case, "little" isn't the most appropriate word. Roger Morris, a member of the National Security Council under Presidents Johnson and Nixon (he resigned in protest over the invasion of Cambodia) and bestselling author of biographies of Richard Nixon, Henry Kissinger, and the Clintons, explores both the "known unknowns" and the "unknown unknowns" of Donald Rumsfeld's emblematic history and legacy, of his long march to power, and what he did with that power once it was in his hands. This initial part of Morris' two-parter deals with Rumsfeld's first rise to Secretary of Defense in the Ford administration -- and that of the GOP with him, of the early neocons, of a post-Vietnam unwillingness to come to grips with an American defeat, and of the wrecking of the U.S. military, among many other matters.

As a prophet, Rumsfeld may not have been exactly Delphic. "I can't tell you if the use of force in Iraq today would last five days, or five weeks, or five months," he said in an interview on November 14, 2002, "but it certainly isn't going to last any longer than that." Nonetheless, he remains an emblematic figure of our age. If you don't understand him, you can't fully grasp the unprecedented ruin which is American foreign policy today.

Morris concludes part two of the series (to be posted later this week) this way:

Weeks after Rumsfeld's departure, history -- the little ever really known or understood -- was already being waved off, forgotten. The past was too complicated and troublesome, too guilt-ridden and close to home, too filled with chilling consequences. The worst of it was the most basic and damning. Donald Rumsfeld and all he represented, all he did and did not do, came out of us. The undertaker's tally, including Iraq, was compiled at our leave, one way or another, at every turn. His tragedy was always ours.

Correspondence Corner:

Name: Stuart Shiffman
Hometown: Springfield, Illinois


As one of your long-time readers I hope you will allow me to prevail upon you for a few moments. I have agreed later this year to present a program here in Springfield on great works of political fiction. I am attempting to pick the brains of some learned folks on the subject.

When you have a moment, tell me what you consider to be a few of the best works of political fiction.

Thanks for the help.

Eric replies: Balzac's Lost Illusions is one of my favorite books of all time, of any kind, but it's also about politics. Of course I like All the King's Men. There's a few Ross Thomas books whose titles I can't remember. Louis Auchincloss, The House of the Prophet, inspired by Walter Lippmann's career, is great in its own small way.

A few years ago there was a good collection called Political Fictions which I quite liked too. I'm sure I'm forgetting some really important books, but at these rates ...

Name: Rob Stafford
Hometown: San Diego

Eric --

I recently had one of our (former) Iraq contractors in my Freshman Comp. class. He was about as right wing as they come (he'd survived the Black Hawk Down incident as an Army Ranger-might have some effect on your perspective), but a genuinely nice, fairly bright guy who did his best to be objective and open minded-particularly when I started the class with an article from Slate that slammed the whole administration pretty severely.

He said several amazing, terrifying things through the course of the class, the thing that (& I was happy for him, but it seems problematic) really struck me was that in 18 months in Iraq working there as a contract medic-he made enough to buy a house, in San Diego, for cash-not bad work if you can get it.

Name: Gregor Crockett
Hometown: Iv

Dear Eric Alterman:

Well done on sustaining your tremendous blog, which is so empirical and readable at the same time.

Incidentally, I am British, and for the first time I have seen this photograph of the Dixie Chicks.

I can remember Christopher Hitchens, a once very gifted speaker and writer who disapproved of their views on the Iraq war, got applause for branding them "f-ing fat slags."

I was disappointed that a once very witty author would resort to such language, but comparing him with the Dixie Chicks, couldn't Mr Hitchens tip the scales on all three of them combined? Somehow it is a perfect metaphor on the hubris of the pro-war movement.

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