Monday, September 20, 2004

A syndrome, an ass, and Pangloss 

What a day - not only have I become a syndrome, and jollied Matthew Yglesias's ass, but a reader Stan reminds me that a few days ago Greg Djerejian of the Belgravia Dispatch has juxtaposed me thus in his post about the latest Iraq commentary: "[B]etween Coleian doom and gloom and unmitigated Panglossian sunshine (Chrenkoffian, I might say in the blogosphere!) there is still some room for cautious and limited optimism."

Again, not unlike Yglesias, Djerejian has got it half-right and half-wrong. Noting Wikipedia's definition that "Panglossianism is baseless optimism of the type possessed by the character Dr. Pangloss in Voltaire's novel Candide. Pangloss believed that 'we live in the best of all possible worlds'. The real-world model for Dr. Pangloss was the philosopher Gottfried Leibniz," I think it might be a bit harsh to describe my attitude in compiling the "Good news" segments as "baseless optimism", seeing that I don't for a moment deny the existence of significant problems in Iraq but am merely trying to provide more information to enable readers to make an informed judgment about the situation in Mesopotamia.

Having said that, Djerejian has the right idea that in order to arrive at an accurate assessment of the situation one should look at both the good and the bad news. I'm happy to keep on providing the good news part of the equation, even if many keep on mistaking my attempts to plug a hole in the mainstream media coverage for an expression of an exuberantly irrational personal belief on my part that all's really well in Iraq.

By the way, I won't be renaming my blog "Pangloss", although it's got a nice ring to it - kind of like the right-wing version of Atrios.

Update: And how could I not mention this poetic indictment by Pandagon, who writes about the right's supposed lack of plan how to "get there" in Iraq:
"Personally, I blame Arthur Chrenkoff. You might remember him as the erstwhile author of Zagat's Guide To Iraq's Finest Secure Zones And Ice Creameries, the man who took 'spheres of separation' to an admirably schizophrenic level these past few months. He's been the ultimate cheerleader of the magical realist, the Franz Roh of the Iraq War."


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