'Intelligent discontent is the mainspring of civilization.' -- Eugene V. Debs

Thursday, December 15, 2005

The New Chalabi on the Block 

So as it becomes increasingly clear that Ahmed Chalabi has a very good chance of becoming Iraq's next Prime Minister (he's deputy PM now), his daughter Tamara is blogging the Iraq elections for Slate. Farhad Manjoo, in Salon, argues that the Slate feature is part of a new campaign to rehabilitate Chalabi's image in the US by establishing his daughter as a bigtime pundit with Middle Eastern politics as her forte:

Tamara, Ahmad's daughter, is an author in her 30s who recently earned a Harvard Ph.D. by studying the Shiite community in Lebanon. Her book on that experience, "The Shi'is of Jabal'Amil and the New Lebanon," will be published next month by Palgrave Macmillan. Now, according to the New York Observer's Gabriel Sherman, she's apparently set her sights on something grander -- making it as a pundit in some of America's highest-profile publications.

This week, Tamara made her debut in Slate, where she's writing diary entries as she travels along with her father's campaign in southern Iraq. Sherman reports that Juleanna Glover Weiss, a former press secretary to Dick Cheney who now works as a lobbyist for John Ashcroft's firm, has been shopping Tamara around to editors at other national newspapers and magazines. Weiss says that Tamara's "intellect and access" make her uniquely poised to work as one of the few female commentators on the Middle East. Sherman writes that "staffers at The New York Times, The Atlantic and The Hotline have received entreaties from Ms. Glover Weiss on her new protégée's behalf."

At this point, I'd just like to say that the primary Chalabi conspiracy theory has become remarkably tenable -- the belief that the US's break with Chalabi in the spring of 2004 was a ploy designed to bolster Chalabi's popularity in Iraq. This business with Tamara Chalabi becoming a pundit really looks like the work of some John Rendon or other...

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