Air America Radio

Well, the Atrios-OTB debate (The Thrilla in Blogzilla?!) on Air America Radio‘s “Majority Report” is over. I’m still unused to the vagaries of radio via telephone but it was a little less awkward from a technological standpoint than my first stab on it with Cam Edwards. I could at least hear everybody, although I think I talked over the segue to a station break. Going three against one trying to defend the progress in Iraq is a daunting task and I’m not sure how well I fared. Atrios, a Wednesday night regular on the program, sounded quite polished and reasonable, at least over the phone.

Clearly, the occupation/counter-insurgency phase of the war has been messy. Aside from not going to war in the first place–which may or may not have been the case if Al Gore or John Kerry were president–I am not sure how things could be much better, though. People give presidents too much credit and blame for things over which they have only strategic control, whether the state of the economy or the progress of a war. No president, regardless of how congenial or how many languages his wife speaks, was going to be able to talk France into going to war with us. No president, regardless of the brilliance his staff, was going to have substantially more success against the insurgency. The insurgents always fare well in the early stages and things get worse before they get better.

Unfortunately for Bush, the incumbent gets blamed for everything that goes wrong and the challenger can say he would have done all the good things, too, but somehow avoided the bad ones. If Gore were president and things were as they are now, one presumes the Republican challenger would say the same thing. Bush is going to have to persuade people between now and November 2nd that he has by and large made the right decisions in Iraq and elsewhere and that he’s more trustworthy than Kerry to lead us into the future. The second part of that task will be easier than the first, I’m afraid.

Update: Don’t forget, Robert Tagorda is on tomorrow night.

FILED UNDER: OTB History,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. forgetting says:

    ‘People give presidents too much credit and blame for things over which they have only strategic control.’

    True, yet it is the administration officials appointed by the leader who make decisions in line with his strategic objectives. If they stray from his preferences, they are dealt with. If they are not dealt with, then it can be assumed that their actions are condoned. So in a sense, it is right the leader bear responsibility for errors of his team. This is the essence of accountability, something Bush campaigned hard on once upon a time.

    Postwar contingency planning in Iraq, by the DOD, has arguably enabled one of the largest ‘strategic’ errors in decades (ie chaos, looting, etc), yet no one is called to task. An inability to admit mistakes does not a wise foreign policy make.

  2. James Joyner says:

    Oh, I agree. My argument is that, once we went in, a lot of what happened was going to happen regardless of the man in charge. Tommy Franks, State Dept. types, and others made most of the decisions on the ground. And people always forget there’s another team on the ground. (Nor am I blaming Franks, et. al. They’re pros making the best decisions they can. )

    Bush took us to Iraq and he gets the credit and blame for things as a result. But Kerry isn’t arguing that we shouldn’t have gone, just that we should have done it “better.” That’s pretty easy to say.

  3. Kate says:

    Am I right in assuming that the reputation you’ve earned through your blog was the sole reason for the invite?

    I ask, because this summer I was a guest “pundit” on a political panel on local talk radio – because of the blog. The phenomenon is a little strange when you think about it. I’m completely without academic or political qualifications, self published and unattached to any established media or party organization. What the hell were they thinking?

  4. Joyner on Air America
    James Joyner will be debating Atrios on Janeane Garofalo’s show on Air America tonight. UPDATE: James Joyner has a full report on his debate and points out that Robert Tagorda is on deck for tomorrow night….

  5. bryan says:

    James,

    You should know by now that you weren’t there to get a fair shake. Three-on-one is a mugging, not a serious discussion. I wish I’d heard it.

    Segue. Segway is the personal transporter thing.

  6. James Joyner says:

    It didn’t look right but I found “segueway” via google search with it saying “do you mean ‘segue’?”

    And, true ’nuff. It was basically me vs. Atrios but the hosts interrupted a couple times and hijacked it. The main thing is that, although we were supposed to be debating whether Bush or Kerry would be the better foreign policy choice, they only wanted to talk about Bush, which really isn’t very useful.

  7. Pat says:

    Maybe some good radio hosts, like Hannity, Limbaugh, Savage, O’Reilly, or Scarborough will have you and the frenchman “atrios” on and you can trap him about how weak Kerry is.

  8. Paul says:

    The phenomenon is a little strange when you think about it. I’m completely without academic or political qualifications, self published and unattached to any established media or party organization. What the hell were they thinking?

    Kate you are eminently qualified to do radio. There is only one qualification to do radio and that is to be interesting.

    Your blog only let the producers know you were interesting.

  9. jen says:

    I thought it was supposed to be on Thursday (today)? I’m bummed I missed it.

  10. Alas, a Blog says:

    Air America Debriefing – Should I have agreed to appear?
    As most “Alas” readers already know, last week I was a guest on Janeane Garofalo’s radio show “The Majority Report.” It was the first of their “blog wars” segments, in which left and right wing bloggers debate this or that…