We’ll all think about this episode for a while. ~James Fallows
As much as I would like to think that Mr. Fallows is right about this, I don’t think this is true. If most people bring up this unhappy episode again, it will be as a cautionary tale to make clear to anyone who wants to serve in government in any important post that merit, qualifications and reputation count for nothing if you do not check off the right ideological boxes. There will be a few who will refer back to this episode as another example of how distorted and warped our policy debate is, but this won’t matter very much. A qualified professional has been inexcusably dragged through the mud to satisfy a bunch of hypocrites, and in return I fully expect that we will get queries as to why we don’t have a better quality of foreign policy realists–you know, the sort who keep their mouths shut about anything controversial and do what they’re told. Then a few years down the road we will wonder why there were not any contrarian and independent minds challenging consensus views that proved to be completely wrong, and then, and perhaps only then, we will look back on this episode and understand how that came about.
In the end, this has been a contestation of power, and the defenders of the status quo won and actually won pretty easily. For all of the pleasant ideas about a changing political landscape and the rise of alternative voices in the debate over U.S. policy in the Near East, all it took to sink a non-confirmable intelligence appointment who had the full confidence of the Director of National Intelligence was a couple of weeks of public whining by a band of petulant, ill-informed hacks. Some may still think about this episode in the days to come, but on the whole “we” will forget, and that is perhaps the most depressing thing about it. The controversy will not elicit a backlash, but will instead change nothing.