LI recommends Richard Cohen’s column in the WP this morning. Most of the re-assessments of the supporters of the Iraq war have cast their positions, both then and now, in the light of their smooth and consistent use of reason. Meritocrats all, they added up reasons pro and con and do their little checklists, they read the journals, they know all about the history. Except of course they know nothing about the history, the checklists consisted of bogus items, and they wrote for the journals they read – groupthink in monad-land. There are, remember, no windows in monads. Cohen is not having any of this, and he chooses a clever image to make his point: that recent issue of the New Republic that featured a lot of hedging liberal hawks:

“I mention anthrax for the simple reason that no one does anymore. It's a curious silence since, along with the attacks on New York and the Pentagon, it all but dominated the news. Some of us did not get mail deliveries and, when they resumed, we went into secure rooms where we donned latex gloves and face masks before opening letters. On a tip, I asked my doctor early on to prescribe Cipro for me, only to find out that, insider though I thought I was, nearly everyone had been asking him for the same thing. People made anthrax-safe rooms, and one woman I know of had a mask made for her small dog. I still don't know if that was a touching gesture or just plain madness.

My point is that we were panicked. Yet that panic never gets mentioned. Last month the New Republic published a "special issue" in which a bevy of very good writers wondered whether they had been wrong to support the war in Iraq. Most of them admitted to having erred about this or that detail or in failing to appreciate how badly George Bush would administer the war and the occupation. But none confessed to being seized by the zeitgeist. I read the magazine cover to cover and unless I somehow missed it, the word anthrax never appeared. Imagine! Not once! Not a single one of these writers admitted to panicking over anthrax.