Moktada al-Sadr‘s “beard reaches up his cheeks and a dark widow’s peak points down from beneath his own black turban. He glowers, projecting mistrust, even when he briefly smiles.” That’s an interesting description, appropriately wicked and uncommonly revealing for an article about politics. It’s also one we’ll almost never see applied by The New York Times (here by Craig S. Smith) to any leader who hasn’t established himself as either A) at war with the U.S.; or B) a has-been. Sadr is certainly the former. He may or may not be the latter, but you can’t tell from Smith’s report. Smith cites three sources in his Week in Review piece — a Sadr flack, an elite Iraqi Sadr opponent, and David L. Phillips, of the Council on Foreign Relations. The Revealer is against the practice of stacking talking heads in any story (yes, the grotesque imagery is intended), but all the more so when the subject is the leader of a populist movement. Sadr’s strength does not come from Iraqi elites. And it probably will never be fully-calculated by the Council on Foreign Relations, which maintains offices on E. 68th St. in Manhattan and Massachusetts Ave. in Washington. But the Times reserves interviews with the masses for stories that need “color,” and this piece is meant to be a work of serious analysis — immune, apparently, from the very opinions of those who make Sadr worthy of ink in the paper.