Sunday, November 23, 2008


Conrad Black: it has come to this. It's been an intermittent amusement to see his rants issued from jail, what with their deluded certainty that the courts would eventually understand him. Now, however, he's given up on vindication to beg for mercy. In a signature move, he's also tried to bill his old newspaper for legal costs incurred in begging Bush for a pardon.

I think this points up the horror of the times in two ways. For a start, the very idea of pardoning Black is sordid. But on the other hand, I suspect Bush won't do it, and that is even worse; he doesn't, I think, have enough gut decency to bail out his friend. You can understand a man who does the E.M. Forster and betrays his country rather than his friends, you can grudgingly respect someone who sticks to the law; someone who does neither is a common enemy.

Anyway, it's scrambling time; the handover modalities are set, and apparently the Iraqi government is asserting a right to look at the US Army's mail. And the staff college students are studying the problems of withdrawal. Even if this guy's still being asked for five pick-up trucks, a VSAT, coffee, and 10 tons of gravel, it's over.

I wonder if Conrad Black, however, might be the first out having been the first in. Not only did he turn his newspapers into an all-singing, all-dancing neocon wankapalooza, he did it early; arguably, the turn came not long after Max Hastings was outed from the Telegraph, and perhaps the whole affair of William Hague's assurances about his peerage should have told us more than it did at the time. And the Jerusalem Post was barely coherent in 2001, let alone later. Black was the first of the movement to be disgraced; he's ahead of the curve. It's probably worth watching him as a leading indicator.

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