“Process Over Substance”

The U.N. approach to the Iraq inspections?
No! Will Saletan’s approach to covering the Iraq inspections.
The Saddameter was bad enough — a half-baked, semi-daily feature in which Saletan makes an art of over-interpreting the day’s events to produce a cute “score” supposedly showing how likely war is on any given day. But now, Slate’s resident numerologist has created an impressive-looking chart of Security Council reaction to Powell’s presentation.
Memo to Will: Those speeches were all written before anybody had heard what Powell had to say. Relying on them to gauge how good a job Powell did is a bit pointless. Using them to try to pseudo-scientifically “score” Powell’s performance is doubly so. (In Saddameter-like terms: if 0 was totally pointful, and 100 is utterly pointless, Saletan gets a 97 today.)
Fellow Slatester Fred Kaplan grokked this rather obvious truth (“…[diplomats] were reading boilerplate that had been written before Powell’s briefing… “). What’s Will’s excuse?
But hey: It is a spiffy looking chart…
Update: Eric Umansky, aka Today’s Papers, gets it too: “USA Today goes highest with foreign feedback, running above-the-fold excerpts from the Security Council responses of Britain, France, China, and Russia. The only problem with that is, as most of the papers mention, that the speeches were all written before Powell gave his talk, so what are they a reaction to?”
Good question, Eric. Ask Will!