“Bill, You Certainly Are An Expert In This Area”

This was how Chris Wallace addressed Bill Kristol on the matter of Iraq on Fox News Sunday this past weekend. No, I'm not kidding. So let's review Mr Kristol's expertise on Iraq these past few years, shall we?

September 19, 2002: Saddam Hussein was "past the finish line" in developing nuclear weapons.

February 20, 2003: "He's got weapons of mass destruction."

February 2003 (from his book, "The War Over Iraq"):

"The United States may need to occupy Iraq for some time. Though U.N., European and Arab forces will, as in Afghanistan, contribute troops, the principal responsibility will doubtless fall to the country that liberates Baghdad. According to one estimate, initially as many as 75,000 troops may be required to police the war's aftermath, at a cost of $16 billion a year. As other countries' forces arrive, and as Iraq rebuilds its economy and political system, that force could probably be drawn down to several thousand soldiers after a year or two."

(Reality check: The war has cost over a trillion dollars and 120,000 US troops remain there seven years later.)

February 24, 2003: "In retrospect, [the Bush administration] probably shouldn't have gone down the inspections route … Doing so merely handed the Europeans and the U.N. — neither of them known for their dissatisfaction with Saddam's rule — a say in the process. The idea, of course, was to mollify them (as well as Colin Powell) and in the process hope that inspectors would stumble across a casus belli. But neither aim has been accomplished.

February 24, 2003: "Having defeated and then occupied Iraq, democratizing the country should not be too tall an order for the world's sole superpower."

March 1, 2003: "Very few wars in American history were prepared better or more thoroughly than this one by this president."

March 5, 2003: "We'll be vindicated when we discover the weapons of mass destruction."

April 1 2003: "On this issue of the Shia in Iraq, I think there’s been a certain amount of, frankly, Terry, a kind of pop sociology in America that, you know, somehow the Shia can’t get along with the Sunni and the Shia in Iraq just want to establish some kind of Islamic fundamentalist regime. There’s almost no evidence of that at all. Iraq’s always been very secular."

Look: we all make mistakes. I did. But unlike Kristol I have tried to account for them. And unlike Kristol, no one on Fox News or anywhere else would call me an "expert" on Iraq. If you want a glimpse into the utter corruption of the Beltway punditariat in which no one is ever accountable for anything they ave ever said, in which individuals who have gotten things so wrong in the past that hundreds of thousands of innocents are now dead continue their lucrative careers, in which no one in the media elite is ever fired for being wrong, only for losing ratings … then the career of Bill Kristol is Exhibit A. Remember that after this record on Iraq, he was rewarded with a column in the New York Times and now has a column on Fred Hiatt's op-ed page in the Washington Post.

The only thing Kristol is expert in is Rovian politics, shamelessness and propaganda.