“Just guessing”

George W. Bush, who can’t remember whether he thinks we can beat terrorism or not, just referred to the grim conclusions of the National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq as “just guessing.”

Is that right? Not an error in the transcript? Surely the President of the United States didn’t refer to the conclusions of a National Intelligence Estimate as “just guessing,” did he?

No, intelligence estimates aren’t always right. But they aren’t just guesses, either. I’m not sure which is more troubling: that the President has so little interest in knowing what’s actually going on, or that he displays such casual contempt for the folks who actually do the hard work while he’s busy cutting brush and attending fundraisers.

[Additional note: in addition to the stupid and offensive”just guessing” remark, the President’s answer contained a bald-faced lie. It’s not true that the NIE “laid out several scenarios that said, life could be lousy, like could be okay, life could be better.” The report said that the BEST we could hope for from Iraq was “tenuous stability,” while the worst was full-scale civil war. But the President’s pattern of flat-out mendacity is such that the press won’t even bother to comment on it.]

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com

Comments are closed.