Demonstrating that, as C-SPAN’s Brian Lamb recently said, journalists have the thinnest skin of anyone, Tom Ricks posted this response to my critique of his comment that Iraq “was probably the biggest mistake in the history of American foreign policy” and that “staying in Iraq is immoral.”
Here is Ricks’s thoughtful, measured response:
Some guy named Pete Wehner who used to flak for President Bush attacks me on Commentary’s site today. I used to read Commentary quite a lot, and actually remember when its authors read the books they criticized! Lazy Wehner clearly hasn’t. I get the impression that he doesn’t know much about Iraq. Here is Joe Klein’s response. The odd thing about Wehner is that he must think he is supporting the military by tearing me down. I just was looking this morning at a note from an Army major who passed along that my new book is mandatory pre-deployment reading in his unit.
A few thoughts in response to Mr. Ricks.
First, I didn’t criticize Ricks’s books without having read them; I criticized his silly and sloppy blog comments. Ricks accuses me of being “lazy” for not reading his books – but he seems too lazy to have read, or at least understood, my short critique of his comments (my response was only 10 paragraphs long, so it shouldn’t have been too difficult – and two of those paragraphs were quoting Ricks himself, which I’m sure pleased his obviously healthy ego).
Second, Ricks says he “get[s] the impression that [Wehner] doesn’t know much about Iraq.” Perhaps – but I knew enough about Iraq to support the surge, when Ricks (and his tag-team partner Joe Klein) did not. (I have repeatedly responded to Klein in the past – here and here and here – so I feel no need to do so now. I’m quite comfortable with how those exchanges turned out.)
Third, I directed my comments to what I believe are Ricks’s weak arguments; I didn’t say I was supporting the military over him. But perhaps Ricks made that odd reference only so he could cite a note from an Army major who passed along a note to him saying that Ricks’s new book is “mandatory pre-deployment reading in his unit.” Ricks’s self-praise is notable.
Fourth, Ricks makes no effort to rebut my substantive criticisms of his comments, which is telling. Perhaps on reflection, he wishes he hadn’t written what he did, in the manner he did.
Fifth and finally: Ricks’s idea of a serious response is to refer to me as, “Some guy named Pete Wehner.” That is the kind of adolescent taunt that one finds on junior high school playgrounds all across America. It must make Ricks’s more serious-minded colleagues cringe.