Is there any penalty anymore for being wrong?
Not in politics. Not in the media.
Otherwise, the cable news channels and newspaper op-ed pages wouldn't be so crowded with unapologetic know-it-alls who turned out to know so little the last time America was heading off to war in Iraq.
Issues like this one are never simple. They require a thoughtful balancing of the world's genuine risks against the strong reluctance to get involved in ancient religion-based civil wars. Intelligent people can come down in different places on questions like these.
But why on Earth should anyone listen to anything that tumbles from the mouths of Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Perle, Condoleezza Rice, Dick Cheney or John McCain on the subject of U.S. troops in Iraq? These war whoopers from the George W. Bush era were so loudly, profoundly, gratuitously wrong the last time, it's hard to imagine they aren't embarrassed just stepping outside.
But it takes a whole new kind of shamelessness to complain, as Cheney just did in The Wall Street Journal about Barack Obama's approach to the latest crisis in Iraq: "Rarely has a U.S. president been so wrong about so much at the expense of so many."
Let the robust debate continue over how to respond to the Sunni onslaught on that messed-up nation. But I can think of a few people who really have forfeited their right to participate.
FOOL ME ONCE
1. Weapons of mass destruction
2. Greeted as liberators
3. Flowing oil wealth
4. In and out in a hurry
5. Why stop now?
ASKED AND UNANSWERED: Was she importing too much into her own bank account? Is that the $27,000 question about import-export company bookkeeper Andrea Tils of Baldwin? . . . How does a New Hyde Park insurance guy who calls himself Big Daddy get Michael Strahan, Eli Manning, Jason Kidd and an endless bevy of major sports stars to turn up at Oheka Castle Monday for a Celebrity Golf Classic benefiting the Health & Humanitarian Aid Foundation and St. Jude Children's Research Hospital? Rich Salgado says he asks . . . Thankfully, 14-year-old Destiny Jasmine is safe at home in Coram after three days of worrying her family sick. But how soon should police declare a missing teen a full-fledged missing-person case with all the drama and resources that implies? . . . With children and seniors accounting for half of Long Island's pedestrian fatalities, can you blame AARP for bringing in national traffic experts to advise on traffic-safety improvements for Valley Stream, Baldwin, Rockville Centre and Freeport? How 'bout starting on Sunrise Highway or Jericho Turnpike? . . . Whatever the lingering issues in the LIRR union talks, does Congress really have a constructive role at the negotiating table? Or does MTA chairman Tom Prendergast have a point when he suggested, politely, that five LI reps just butt out?
THE NEWS IN SONG: It just comes so dang natural to you: "You Lie," The Band Perry, tinyurl.com/lieyoulie
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Long Islander of the week: Chris Algieri
There are always a few white-collar cubicle drones and Wall Street tough guys getting sweaty at down-market boxing gyms. But who ever heard of a professional fighter with a bachelor's degree and a master's degree actually winning a world title? As the new WBO light welterweight champ, Huntington's Chris Algieri has proved once and for all that educated suburban guys really can pound in the ring. Analysts were calling opponent Ruslan Provodnikov "the Siberian Rocky." But a week after Algieri's underdog split-decision victory at the Barclays Center and on HBO, the Long Islander is the one basking in come-from-behind Hollywood analogies. Promoter Joe DeGuardia promises even bigger things ahead for the Stony Brook and New York Institute of Technology grad.