More generally, I think a moderate tone is a good idea in these things. Otherwise, you run a high risk of looking like a jerk when you have to admit you’re wrong; or a real jerk when you pretend the whole thing never happened. Posts on what embarassing morons your opponents will be bitterly regretted if, say, it turns out that there is no such contractor at Beauchamp’s base; as will fulminations about left-wing lies if Beauchamp’s stories are corroborated at his court martial. Safer to say that your best judgement lies one way or another, and leave it at that.
But that’s not quite right, is it? At least at LGM, we’ve been somewhat skeptical of the story’s veracity from the beginning. We have not argued that the things that Beauchamp says happened indeed happened; indeed, while we’ve maintained that the stories are plausible, we’ve had our doubts as to particular details. For my own part, learning tha Beauchamp has indeed served in Iraq lends credence to his story. But that’s not really the point of the post that Megan cites. The boys at Blackfive, Michelle Malkin, Glenn Reynolds, and so forth have asserted that the story cannot be true for… some reason. Americans wouldn’t do that; nothing that the New Republic publishes can be trusted (except, presumably, for all of their pro-war stories and pro-war editorials); Beauchamp is a loser who writes poetry, and therefore must by lying, etc.
While it may turn out that Beauchamp is manufacturing this stuff out of whole cloth, none of the attacks that the wingnutosphere have launched have emanated even the faintest whiff of a good faith argument. Rather, they’ve depended on ad hominem assault, character assassination, non-sequiter contentions, and direct intimidation. I would grant a mild exception to the initial Goldfarb post, which at least tried to deal with the substance of the TNR diary.
But TNR’s defenders seem to think that it is a defense to say, “Well, everyone who’s talking about this is evil; and also, bad things happen in war.” Both could be true, and wouldn’t tell us whether *these* bad things happen. Some bad things mostly don’t happen in war (at least, not recreationally): squads don’t all start, say, cutting each other’s genitals off in the rec hall… Those aren’t idle questions; they need an answer better than “I friggin’ loathe Michelle Malkin.”
Sure, but that misses the point of my, and Digby’s, and Glenn’s posts rather dramatically. Michelle Malkin and Uncle Jimbo at Blackfive may actually be right about this case, but that doesn’t legitimate the approach that they’re taking. I suppose that I would ask Megan this: Do you think that there is any piece of evidence that Scott Thomas Beauchamp could provide that would convince Michelle Malkin and her crew that his story was legitimate? Do you remember the Jamal Hussein fiasco? Have you noted how many residents of right blogistan still insist that the weapons of mass destruction are in Syria, and that Saddam Hussein had close operational links with Al Qaeda? Do you understand why I’m bringing all of these up at the same time?
See also Ezra.