Sunday, August 27, 2006
Since they can't properly cover the civil war in Baghdad (too far, too expensive, too dangerous, too partisan), the media, always looking for a good conflict story, has been floating trial balloons on their fall narrative. It's still summer, pre-Labor Day, and the editors need something simple they can grasp, so they can explain the news to their publishers. The public, way ahead of the press and the publishers, need no such narrative as they have already created their own (failure of 2000-2006 governance). But conflict sells.
Today's offering from the WaPo is the purported split in Democrats over the Iraq War. But the real issue,as reported accurately (oh, those headline writers!), is this:
The large number of Democrats opposed to a strict timeline for ending the military operations runs contrary to the assertion by President Bush and top Republicans that Democrats want to "cut and run" amid mounting casualties and signs of civil war. At the same time, the decision by many Democrats to refrain from advocating a specific plan for withdrawal complicates their leaders' efforts to convince voters that they offer a clear new direction for the increasingly unpopular war.Chris Murphy (the CT-5 Democratic challenger) had a wonderful quote when pressed to solve Iraq in a 30 second sound byte:
"It is like dropping a raw egg and asking me what my plans are for putting it back together," said Chris Murphy, the Democrat challenging Rep. Nancy L. Johnson (R-Conn.). Murphy favors bringing home National Guard and reserve units, or about 25,000 of the 138,000 U.S. troops stationed in Iraq, beginning next year, and leaving it to Bush's military commanders to determine the rest of the exit strategy.Republicans (and their editorial allies in the press) are desperate to change the subject from Administration failures at every opportunity. If Democrats are united about presenting an alternative to the disaster known as "stay the course", it must indicate division, right?
So here's the deal, editors. Let's make it simple for you.
- 1. Stay the course is a failure that has led to civil war. Democrats are united in wanting a course correction.
2. There's no easy way for the egg to be put back, but never forget it was the fumble-prone President who dropped it.
3. Clean-up is messy, but necessary. Get the kids out of the kitchen who made the mess, and put the grownups back in charge, or the mess will never get cleaned up.
4. There are several plans being discussed, from Feingold's to Murtha's to the position statement by Dem leadership to the idea floated last week by Byman and Pollack (who at least acknowledge civil war). The public does not demand a finished product by November. They do demand serious work and effort on the task. That includes oversight, which this Congress has never implemented. And it includes accountability (Pollack forgot to include himself, by the way, although Rumsfeld's head seems to be first in line these days).
5. How we got there is vitally important to cover. It's not old news because it will affect how we deal with Iran. Unless we understand fully the mistakes made in Iraq, we will make them again.
Now how hard was that?