Sunday, 11 March 2007

THE DEMOCRATIC CUT-AND-RUN STRATEGY

Ken Berwitz

Several times this week, I have talked about how Nevada Democrats are using a cut-and-run strategy to avoid a presidential debate they agreed to months ago.   Their apparent reason for cutting and running is because moveon.org, which seems to be making good on their boast that they "own" the Democratic party, objected to the fact that it would be on Fox News Channel (FNC).

The latest rationale to justify this ludicrous and ultimately self-damaging exercise in censorship is that FNC chairman Roger Ailes made a joke "comparing Barack Obama to osama bin laden".   In a letter to Fox, Nevada state Democratic party chairman, Tom Collins, and senate majority leader, Nevada senator Harry Reid, righteously pontificated that: 

"We cannot, as good Democrats, put our party in a position to defend such comments.  We take no pleasure in this, but it is the only course of action"

It should be pointed out that this is the same Harry Reid who praised the debate to the skies when it was agreed upon.  Incredibly, his statement is STILL on the Nevada State Democratic Party site.  You can find it at:  http://www.nvdems.com/news.php?newsid=754  .  My advice is to link to it fast;  I doubt they'll leave this incriminating quote there much longer.  

Here's what Reid said, straight from the Democrats' own site:

In making the announcement, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) said, This is more great news for Nevada.  I'm happy FOX News will be a partner for the August presidential debate.  Western issues will be a major focus of this debate in particular. With FOX News as our partner, candidates will have an opportunity to not only speak to Nevada voters, but voters across the West who will be instrumental to electing a Democratic president in 2008.

Whoops.

But wait, you say, that's not fair.  Roger Ailes changed everything by insulting one of their front-running candidates.  He compared Barack Obama to osama bin laden for god sakes.  What do you expect the Democratic party to do, let him get away with it?

That's a pretty good argument, too, unless you know what Ailes actually said.  Here are his exact words:

"It's true that Barack Obama is on the move.  I don't know if it's true that President Bush called Musharraf and said "Why can't we catch this guy?"

Notice anything about the quote?  Is it insulting Barack Obama?  All it says about him is that he's on the move (which Collins, Reid and, most assuredly, a worried Hillary Clinton would certainly agree with). 

Yes, there is a joke that someone confused Obama with osama.  But who was the confused party, thus the butt of this joke?  President Bush, that's who.

Collins and Reid, therefore, are two frauds who are trying to explain away their slavishness to moveon.org, by lying about who Roger Ailes insulted.  This is how low they are willing to go.  And the only way they can possibly get away with it is if YOU are ignorant.  That is what they are counting on.

Your job, should you decide to take it, is to be a an ignoramus or an idiot.  You either have to not know that they are lying about what Ailes said, or know it but be incapable of comprehending what means.

Another important key to this strategy is media compicity.  If media report what Ailes said, maybe even play or print his exact words, then note that his comment was used to torpedo the Democratic presidential debate on FNC, they are doing their job. The reader, viewer or listener can then use his/her own eyes and ears and come to a conclusion about whether this makes any sense. 

Will media do their job?  Interesting question, isn't it, since the argument for blowing of FNC is their bias.  Stay tuned and see.


IS THE TROOP SURGE WORKING?

Ken Berwitz

In monitoring various media today, I came across an article by Robert Kagan in the Washington Post, entitled "The Surge Is Succeeding". 

Kagan, who, among other things, is an author and a senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, lays out a very persuasive argument that our troop surge (which still is in its infancy - i.e. most of the additional troops have not even arrived yet) is having a significant positive effect.  Read it below and see for yourself (bold print is mine):

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The 'Surge' Is Succeeding

Sunday, March 11, 2007; Page B07

A front-page story in The Post last week suggested that the Bush administration has no backup plan in case the surge in Iraq doesn't work. I wonder if The Post and other newspapers have a backup plan in case it does.

Leading journalists have been reporting for some time that the war was hopeless, a fiasco that could not be salvaged by more troops and a new counterinsurgency strategy. The conventional wisdom in December held that sending more troops was politically impossible after the antiwar tenor of the midterm elections. It was practically impossible because the extra troops didn't exist. Even if the troops did exist, they could not make a difference.

Four months later, the once insurmountable political opposition has been surmounted. The nonexistent troops are flowing into Iraq. And though it is still early and horrible acts of violence continue, there is substantial evidence that the new counterinsurgency strategy, backed by the infusion of new forces, is having a significant effect.

Some observers are reporting the shift. Iraqi bloggers Mohammed and Omar Fadhil, widely respected for their straight talk, say that "early signs are encouraging." The first impact of the "surge," they write, was psychological. Both friends and foes in Iraq had been convinced, in no small part by the American media, that the United States was preparing to pull out. When the opposite occurred, this alone shifted the dynamic.

As the Fadhils report, "Commanders and lieutenants of various militant groups abandoned their positions in Baghdad and in some cases fled the country." The most prominent leader to go into hiding has been Moqtada al-Sadr. His Mahdi Army has been instructed to avoid clashes with American and Iraqi forces, even as coalition forces begin to establish themselves in the once off-limits Sadr City.

Before the arrival of Gen. David Petraeus, the Army's leading counterinsurgency strategist, U.S. forces tended to raid insurgent and terrorist strongholds and then pull back and hand over the areas to Iraqi forces, who failed to hold them. The Fadhils report, "One difference between this and earlier -- failed -- attempts to secure Baghdad is the willingness of the Iraqi and U.S. governments to commit enough resources for enough time to make it work." In the past, bursts of American activity were followed by withdrawal and a return of the insurgents. Now, the plan to secure Baghdad "is becoming stricter and gaining momentum by the day as more troops pour into the city, allowing for a better implementation of the 'clear and hold' strategy." Baghdadis "always want the 'hold' part to materialize, and feel safe when they go out and find the Army and police maintaining their posts -- the bad guys can't intimidate as long as the troops are staying."

A greater sense of confidence produces many benefits. The number of security tips about insurgents that Iraqi civilians provide has jumped sharply. Stores and marketplaces are reopening in Baghdad, increasing the sense of community. People dislocated by sectarian violence are returning to their homes. As a result, "many Baghdadis feel hopeful again about the future, and the fear of civil war is slowly being replaced by optimism that peace might one day return to this city," the Fadhils report. "This change in mood is something huge by itself."

Apparently some American journalists see the difference. NBC's Brian Williams recently reported a dramatic change in Ramadi since his previous visit. The city was safer; the airport more secure. The new American strategy of "getting out, decentralizing, going into the neighborhoods, grabbing a toehold, telling the enemy we're here, start talking to the locals -- that is having an obvious and palpable effect." U.S. soldiers forged agreements with local religious leaders and pushed al-Qaeda back -- a trend other observers have noted in some Sunni-dominated areas. The result, Williams said, is that "the war has changed."

It is no coincidence that as the mood and the reality have shifted, political currents have shifted as well. A national agreement on sharing oil revenue appears on its way to approval. The Interior Ministry has been purged of corrupt officials and of many suspected of torture and brutality. And cracks are appearing in the Shiite governing coalition -- a good sign, given that the rock-solid unity was both the product and cause of growing sectarian violence.

There is still violence, as Sunni insurgents and al-Qaeda seek to prove that the surge is not working. However, they are striking at more vulnerable targets in the provinces. Violence is down in Baghdad. As for Sadr and the Mahdi Army, it is possible they may reemerge as a problem later. But trying to wait out the American and Iraqi effort may be hazardous if the public becomes less tolerant of their violence. It could not be comforting to Sadr or al-Qaeda to read in the New York Times that the United States plans to keep higher force levels in Iraq through at least the beginning of 2008. The only good news for them would be if the Bush administration in its infinite wisdom starts to talk again about drawing down forces.

No one is asking American journalists to start emphasizing the "good" news. All they have to do is report what is occurring, though it may conflict with their previous judgments. Some are still selling books based on the premise that the war is lost, end of story. But what if there is a new chapter in the story?

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That looks like pretty good news, doesn't it?  And the Washington Post which, in my opinion, is far more circumspect about Iraq in recent months than they used to be,  has no problem reporting this side of things. 

It doesn't mean the Post has become pro-Bush or pro-war by any means (though you'd never know this by the absolutely hysterical comments their far-left groupies are putting up online when they comment about the article).  It means that if there are two sides, the Post is going to present both of them.

By contrast, you'll wait until the 12th of never to see a similar article in the New York Times, which seems determined to do everything they can to subvert the war any way possible.

This is not to say that their editorial positions are all that different.  The Post and Times are both very critical of the war in Iraq.  The difference in how they REPORT the war in Iraq, however, continues to grow. 

Simply stated, the Post (unlike the Times) is acting as a responsible news venue by publishing two sides to the story.  We can argue about how much of each side is actually presented but it is clear that the pro and anti war voices both have a place there.  My compliments;  that is what journalism should seek to do. Give us the news as it is, give us a mix of opinion about the news, and let us use our brains to sort things out.

The New York Times' idea of two sides is a bit different.  Based on reading four years of the paper's news stories, columnists' opinions and selected letters to the editor on Iraq, their idea of two sides appears to be that either the war is wrong and Bush is the worst President in USA history, or that the war is wrong and Bush is the worst head of state in world history. 

Two sides of the story on Iraq is about as welcome at the New York Times as Ann Coulter is at Rosie O'Donnell's next birthday party.

Footnote:  Earlier, I alluded to the hard-leftists who overwhelm the Washington Post's comment boards.  If  my stomach can take it, I may post some of their riper comments about Kagan's article.  Keep watching, and be sure to have an air sickness bag nearby.


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