New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman paused in the middle of a heartfelt tribute to two late editors the other day to take a slap at the blogosphere. "I like blogs," he wrote, "but the only bloggers who appeal to me are those who do reporting and aren't just sitting at home in their pajamas firing off digital mortars."
Friedman says that you can't do solid analysis if you don't wear out some shoe leather first. We can tell you that there's some truth to that, even without taking pen and reporter's notebook in hand first. But it seems that the formulation doesn't always work both ways. Years' worth of gumshoeing around the world on the company tab doesn't guarantee the sharpest of analysis, either.
On "Hardball" last week, Friedman predicted that we'll know "in the next year to six months, probably sooner, whether a decent outcome is possible" in Iraq. That's the kind of solid analysis good reporting will get you -- so solid, in fact, that, as FAIR notes today, Friedman has been offering some variation of it on a fairly regular basis for almost three years now. In Friedman's world, it seems, the next six months in Iraq are always the most critical ones -- and there's always a chance that we'll have turned the corner by the time that they're done.
Of course, Friedman isn't the only serial optimist when it comes to the war. Testifying on Capitol Hill today, Donald Rumsfeld said that Iraq has entered a "hopeful new phase" even as he refused to promise that the United States would be able to withdraw any of its troops this year.