Tuesday, May 11, 2004

Jason van Steerwyck of Iraq Now has been back for a month or so now, and has been using that time to get back into the swing of civilian-blogging after his year in Iraq, most of that in the heart of the Sunni Triangle. He is my favorite milblogger, having been both an infantry officer with the Guard and a trained, highly critical journalist.

He took the opportunity yesterday to fisk Jacob Weisberg's recent apologia for his ongoing "Bushisms" column in Slate. He did so in such a thorough and spectacular manner, that I'm not sure there's enough of Weisberg left to fill a shot glass. van Steerwyck noted in passing that he's looking for freelance work as a journalist. While I appreciate this, I'm afraid that this sort of effort isn't likely to get him far in national circles outside of the partisan rags. It isn't collegial, fisking. Andrew Sullivan can get away with it because he's been on the scene long enough to be a feared "old man" - someone who should not be crossed in a serious fashion. At that level, it's integrity issues, and not collegiality issues, which sink a reputation.

At van Steerwyck's level, you have to be serious and somewhat humorless to get a foot inside the door. Phil Carter, a fellow milblogger with a legal orientation, has been able to parlay his well-earned reputation for judiciousness, neutrality, and collegiality into a gig writing military-themed mini-features for Slate. Lord knows, with that vituperative fraud Fred Kaplan serving as their military affairs man, Slate needed somebody. But I fear that Carter's unemotive expertise makes him a much more attractive package than the equally competent van Steerwyck to the Michael Kinsleys of the world.

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