Okay. Time to defend the Bush administration from Brendan Nyhan’s smears. Just because Nyhan doesn’t approve of high-powered PR techniques, doesn’t mean that it was bad policy for the Bush administration to try to spend $1 million on putting those techniques to work on behalf of the Palestinian Authority. Say what you will about the Bush administration, but they’re pretty good at political marketing.
And while there’s more to life than effective marketing, marketing can be effective. Shoring up Fatah’s popularity vis-a-vis the more radical Hamas was widely believed to an important policy objective for the United States, and there’s every reason to believe that putting better PR tools at its disposal could be helpful in that regard. Obviously, readers are aware that I think Bush’s policies toward the Israel-Palestine conflict have been disastrous and obviously these PR gestures are an inadequate policy, but slamming them for spending the money seems silly.