I wonder if really elite pundits like Joe Klein ever feel weird about writing that something might look bad even though it makes sense on the merits. After all, Klein has a substantial ability to affect how things are perceived. He notes that “Just because [liberals are] right about Iraq, and about this escalation, it doesn’t mean they won’t be blamed by the public if the result of an American withdrawal is lethal chaos in the region and $200 per barrel oil” which is true. On the other hand, if American withdraws and Joe Klein and other similarly situated people all focus their energy on placing the blame where it belongs — on the war’s architects — then the odds are pretty good that liberals won’t be blamed.
The Note’s “Gang of 500” business is a joke, but only sort of. A rather small number of writers, producers, and editors for ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Time, Newsweek, and the Associated Press substantially determine how things will be play in the press. If those people decide that doing something will “look weak” and then cover it as if it does “look weak” it then will, in fact, look weak. If they determine the reverse, the reverse will probably happen.