Davos Newbies Home

Adam Smith and weblogs 

Harry’s Place: “On the plus side bloggers know their readership very well indeed — we get instant feedback in comments and more considered reflections in emails from readers. I’m not sure all the people writing for papers have such a clear idea of who they are writing for. One of the things that I reckon weakens some newspaper journalism is writing for the editor not the reader, that doesn’t exist in blogging.

“At the risk of sounding like a libertarian the ‘invisible hand’ really does seem to work for blogs, at least in the British political weblog scene. There is good writing and bad. There is left-wing and there is right-wing. There are niche blogs on specific topics and there are blogs that take a wider brief. The readers make their choice at the click of a mouse without any cost.”

Eloquent testimony 

Scott Rosenberg: “Someone can correct me if I’m wrong, but I can’t recall a single instance when a leading Bush official — someone on the order of a cabinet secretary or above — looked the American people in the eye and either apologized or admitted error. They don’t know how to do it. Admitting mistakes is not in their playbook. Apologies are for wimps and Democrats.

“Now Clarke, neither wimp nor Democrat, has done both these things, in simple, direct words — words that, I think, the 9/11 family members and their wider network of friends, relations and sympathizers, a circle that ripples out to include just about all of us, have wanted and needed to hear from someone in a position of responsibility for so long.”

What Condi would say 

Brad DeLong has penned a tour de force: his version of what Condoleeza Rice’s opening statement to the September 11 commission might sound like.

An absolutely essential read to understand the bureaucratic mind. I think such a statement would be a very plausible line for Rice to take in a rational way. Of course, politics isn’t rational and she’d be drawn and quartered for the admission of a failure to see the significance of al-Qaeda, whatever the benefits of a rigorous process and comprehensive plan might have seemed.

William Saletan makes some of the same points in Slate. His conclusion is worth re-airing: “Life is complex and surprising. You can’t anticipate everything in a big plan. You have to accept that, and you have to organize yourself to catch the things your plans will miss. For failing to understand this lesson before 9/11, perhaps Bush and his national security team can be forgiven. For refusing to accept the same lesson now, after all the deaths and all the hearings, they cannot.”

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