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April 11, 2008

Mickey Kaus Goofs Mightily on the NYT's Iraq/Basra Coverage

I mostly gave up fisking a while ago, as it seemed, what's the word, childish. Just snarking after quoting someone.

Kaus seems similarly embarrassed to employ this old school technique, but it's so much fun it reminds me of why I used to do it. The NYT is determined to see looming instability and political collapse; but their case is made difficult by the facts (which they report with some amount of chagrin) that stability appears to be increasing.

But there's always the risk hope of instability somewhere over the horizon.

The tension between what the Times hopes for the future and what it actually must report as the present is funny enough on its own, but Kaus helps point out the contradictions.

From Instapundit, who rounds up Austin Bay's take as well as Iraqi blogger Alaa's. Quoting Austin Bay:

The Iraqi army and Iraqi government planned and executed the operation themselves. Failure? Don't think so. This is progress. As time passes, it is increasingly clear the Iraqi army did a far better job than the Shia gangsters.

But we all know why the complex chart gets ignored and successes are glasses half-empty: A presidential election campaign is on, and the Democratic Party has bet its soul on defeat.

"Hear no progress in Iraq, see no progress in Iraq, but most of all speak of no progress in Iraq." Thus Sen. Joe Lieberman, a member of the Armed Services Committee, deftly summed the last two years of Democratic Party posturing as well as the Democrats' talking points in the latest hearings.

Mr. Lieberman's maverick pal, Sen. and Republican presidential nominee John McCain, spoke more bluntly, "Congress should not choose to lose in Iraq, but we should choose to succeed."

Ted Kennedy had a bit of snark himself, noting that when violence is increasing and we appear to be losing hope of a victory, Bush says we have to stay the course, and when violence subsides and we appear to be on the verge of actual, unambiguous victory, Bush also says we have to stay the course.

He presents this as some sort of a contradiction, when in fact the same imperative runs through both: We cannot afford to lose in Iraq and indeed have a fair chance of a cataclysmic victory. Cataclysmic for Al Qaeda and Islamist lunatics, I mean.

But what is the imperative that runs through both of Kennedy's flip-side claims, to wit, that we must withdraw when violence is increasing and hope of victory seems diminshed, and also that we must withdraw when violence is subsiding and hope of victory seems... well, rather hopeful, actually?

On the first point, I can't fault him: If a situation looks dire and unwinnable, withdrawal may in fact be the best of a pile of bad options.

But how about on that second point? Is he saying that when a situation looks like it might actually result in a major victory, we should still withdrawal and force a sure defeat on ourselves?

What possible logic animates that latter proposition, except for the obvious, the viciously partisan position that sacrifices national security (not to mention the fate of millions of Iraqis) to the ostensibly greater moral imperative that Bush must be repudiated and America soundly defeated in order for the Democrats to prosper politically?

A house burned, but the heroic efforts of Americans (and Iraqis, and also Austrialians and Czechs and Poles and, earlier, Brits) put out the blaze almost completely, so that the house still stands and only small pockets of fire crackle here and thee to threaten it.

Bush (and McCain, and Hillary and Obama too, sometimes) say "Well, gee, maybe we should put out those fires once and for all so that this house may stand forever."

Ted Kennedy is saying "Let the winds and circumstance play with the flames and let's see if we cannot invite the inferno once again. Just... to see if we can get it to burn."

Bush and Kennedy both have clear and consistent positions on the War in Iraq. Neither is engaged in contradiction or inconsistency whatsoever.

It's just that Bush always wants to win the War in Iraq, whatever the circumstances, even when they are the most dire, and Kennedy always wants to lose the War in Iraq, whatever the circumstances, even when they are the most hopeful and victory seems almost in reach.

They're both consistent. There is no hypocrisy on either man's part.

But there is obviously a chasm of integrity, morality, and statesmanship between each position. Bush can well be faulted for stubbornly insisting on victory even in the face of circumstances that caused many of us -- myself included -- to despair.

But compare that to a man stubbornly insisting on defeat even in the face of circumstances suggesting not merely the possibility of victory, but the strong likelihood thereof.

And what does he gain? Why, his party has a marginally better chance of taking the White House and picking up a few more Congressional and Senate seats. And he will reap the great personal satisfaction of finally winning a political argument, the argument that the War in Iraq was unwinnable, even if he himself needs to intervene to make sure it is not won.

Stay classy, left-liberals. Stay classy.


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posted by Ace at 02:06 PM

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