From an unsigned editorial in the New York Times:
President Bush told the nation last night that the war in Iraq was difficult but winnable. Only the first is clearly true. Despite buoyant cheerleading by administration officials, the military situation is at best unimproved. The Iraqi Army, despite Mr. Bush's optimistic descriptions, shows no signs of being able to control the country without American help for years to come. There are not enough American soldiers to carry out the job they have been sent to do, yet the strain of maintaining even this inadequate force is taking a terrible toll on the ability of the United States to defend its security on other fronts around the world. [SNIP]I think that’s enough for all to get the tone of the piece; negativity and parsing. Yes, I know; it’s the New York Times. But I wonder what such people expect the president to say and to do.. “Okay, it was a big mistake and I’m pulling our boys and girls out now. The ones that died did so for nothing and we’re going to leave the peaceful Iraqi citizenry to the clutches of the terrorists and insurgents. We’re going to leave them at the mercy of the Islamists so that there women and girls can be treated barely better than animals. We…”
Sadly, Mr. Bush wasted his opportunity last night, giving a speech that only answered questions no one was asking. He told the nation, again and again, that a stable and democratic Iraq would be worth American sacrifices, while the nation was wondering whether American sacrifices could actually produce a stable and democratic Iraq.
I really think that people like the author of this editorial expect the authors of OIF to throw up their hands in surrender because of the bad things that are happening over in Iraq. (Bad things happening during a war: imagine that.) In fact, I think that many are angry that the Vietnam script isn’t quite being played out as hoped.
From Richard Dunham in Business Weekly:
TET ON THE TIGRIS? What were they [the Democrats] to expect, though? The President long ago realized that his critics would never be placated. Instead, he is trying to win back lost friends on the political right, to rebuild his 51% coalition, and to convince the troops that he -- if not the entire nation -- is on their side.Mr. Dunham is right, but not in the way that he thinks. What Mr. Dunham doesn’t know or hopes his readers don’t know is that Tet was an American military success during the Vietnam War, but the American public was lead to believe that it was a failure by the traditional media; back then, of course, the only game in town.
For a short time at least, he's likely to succeed. In the long run, however, it'll be the TV videos from Baghdad that convince most Americans whether the President is a modern-day Winston Churchill, resolutely leading the free world to victory over the evildoers -- or the second coming of LBJ, battered by an endless reprise of the Tet Offensive.
That monopoly is impossible to be had now.
What we have to decide in this age in which we are bombarded with information is whether or not we’ll be lead blindly by the likes of the New York Times editorial page and Mr. Dunham or even by the National Review and Victor Davis Hanson (yes, I know; lopsided comparisons). There is no reason for most Americans to be fed his/her opinions; to believe, like some of my relatives do, that nothing save bad things are happening in Iraq.
The after-speech I watched was that of MSNBC, hosted by Chris Matthews in a townhall meeting format in Tennessee. (After the speech, Fox News nearly broke its proverbial neck resuming the all-Natalie-Holloway-all-the-time coverage. I’ll get to that later.) The presentation was very good in spite of the negative tone of Mr. Matthews' questions to military wives, his propensity to obnoxiously demand answers and to interrupt those same answers. These ladies were unequivocally positive, upbeat and they understood the bottom line. Mr. Matthews couldn’t lay a glove on that foundation.
Additionally, two Muslim ladies stood up to rebuke terrorism and assert their desire to live in peace with other Americans of every race and religion. Let many more of their number speak up.
Mr. Matthews said one thing last night that I agree with, however:
“Talking politics is easier than fighting insurgents.”Just so.