Over at the Washington Post, David Ignatius writes:
David Ignatius - Honing our plan for Afghanistan: Like any war, this one is ultimately about willpower, and America has an advantage in Petraeus, one of the strongest-willed people you could hope to meet...
And then immediately contradicts himself:
But this winner's psyche is not sufficient. History shows that three variables are crucial in countering an insurgency: a real process of reconciliation, no safe havens for the enemy and a competent host government. None are present in Afghanistan...
So which is it? Is it about American "willpower," or is it about whether there is a competent host government, an absence of safe havens, and a real reconciliation process? It has to be one or the other.
So it is too bad that Michael Froomkin is right when he writes:
Units of Measure: As coined by Atrios, a “Friedman” or “Friedman unit” is famously six months — the amount of time that the columnist keeps telling us it will take before we know whether Iraq turns the corner, finds the lights at the end of the tunnel….but when the time passes, we just get the same prediction again and again. Is it time to define a new unit of measure, “the DeLong” — as the five years he predicts the Washington Post has before it craters (unless it changes)?
Admittedly, what makes the Friedman a Friedman is that we’ve had so many of them since he first made that ill-fated prediction. And as far as I know, the first sighting of Brad’s prediction may be March 7, 2007, which is pretty recent. So it’s not quite the same thing.
But I bet the Post lasts longer than five years despite all its dreadful editorial flaws. It has a lock on the local classified ad market, and its web site is a category killer that will smother local competitors. That’s going to be monetizable some day and will help keep the print paper afloat.
[Original draft 4/18/2007. In preparation for my blog redesign, I found draft blog posts that somehow never made it to publication. This is one of them.]
2010: As a prediction, I think it’s looking good. As a newspaper, though, the Post really is looking awful.
Why oh why can't we have a better press corps?