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Bush-era war whoopers were wrong then, are wrong now

Former President George W. Bush speaking at the

Former President George W. Bush speaking at the George W. Bush Institute at Southern Methodist University in Dallas on Feb. 19, 2014. Bush says painting is his new passion to fill the void in his life after he left the White House. Credit: AP / LM Otero

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.


1. Weapons of mass destruction

2. Greeted as liberators

3. Flowing oil wealth

4. In and out in a hurry

5. Why stop now?

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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.

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