Monday, 21 July 2008


Ken Berwitz

You're not going to believe this one.  But it is true nonetheless.

Suppose you were a candidate for President of the United States and your opponent wrote an op-ed piece about Iraq that was published in a major newspaper.  Suppose you wrote your view on the same issue and submitted it.  And suppose the editor rejected what you had written ......  on the grounds that it did not agree with your opponent!!!!????

That couldn't happen, right?

Wrong.  It could, and just did.  The newspaper is the New York Times, the view was written by Senator John McCain and the editor who rejected it is David Shipley.  Shipley is the Times' op-ed editor, and a former (?) Democratic operative:

Here is the Drudge Report's piece on this astonishing example of naked bias - complete with the entire article Senator McCain submitted.  I know it is long.  But I would not edit out even one letter.

The scandal belongs to the Times.  The bold print is mine:


Mon Jul 21 2008 12:00:25 ET

An editorial written by Republican presidential hopeful McCain has been rejected by the NEW YORK TIMES -- less than a week after the paper published an essay written by Obama, the DRUDGE REPORT has learned.

The paper's decision to refuse McCain's direct rebuttal to Obama's
'My Plan for Iraq' has ignited explosive charges of media bias in top Republican circles.

'It would be terrific to have an article from Senator McCain that mirrors Senator Obama's piece,' NYT Op-Ed editor David Shipley explained in an email late Friday to McCain's staff. 'I'm not going to be able to accept this piece as currently written.'

In McCain's submission to the TIMES, he writes of Obama: 'I am dismayed that he never talks about winning the waronly of ending it... if we don't win the war, our enemies will. A triumph for the terrorists would be a disaster for us. That is something I will not allow to happen as president.'

NYT's Shipley advised McCain to try again: 'I'd be pleased, though, to look at another draft.'

[Shipley served in the Clinton Administration from 1995 until 1997 as Special Assistant to the President and Senior Presidential Speechwriter.]

A top McCain source claims the paper simply does not agree with the senator's Iraq policy, and wants him to change it, not "re-work the draft."

McCain writes in the rejected essay: 'Progress has been due primarily to an increase in the number of troops and a change in their strategy. I was an early advocate of the surge at a time when it had few supporters in Washington. Senator Barack Obama was an equally vocal opponent. 'I am not persuaded that 20,000 additional troops in Iraq is going to solve the sectarian violence there,' he said on January 10, 2007. 'In fact, I think it will do the reverse.'

Shipley, who is on vacation this week, explained his decision not to run the editorial.

'The Obama piece worked for me because it offered new information (it appeared before his speech); while Senator Obama discussed Senator McCain, he also went into detail about his own plans.'

Shipley continues: 'It would be terrific to have an article from Senator McCain that mirrors Senator Obama's piece. To that end, the article would have to articulate, in concrete terms, how Senator McCain defines victory in Iraq.'


The DRUDGE REPORT presents the McCain editorial in its submitted form:

In January 2007, when General David Petraeus took command in Iraq, he called the situation hard but not hopeless. Today, 18 months later, violence has fallen by up to 80% to the lowest levels in four years, and Sunni and Shiite terrorists are reeling from a string of defeats. The situation now is full of hope, but considerable hard work remains to consolidate our fragile gains.

Progress has been due primarily to an increase in the number of troops and a change in their strategy. I was an early advocate of the surge at a time when it had few supporters in Washington. Senator Barack Obama was an equally vocal opponent. "I am not persuaded that 20,000 additional troops in Iraq is going to solve the sectarian violence there, he said on January 10, 2007. In fact, I think it will do the reverse."

Now Senator Obama has been forced to acknowledge that our troops have performed brilliantly in lowering the level of violence. But he still denies that any political progress has resulted.

Perhaps he is unaware that the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad has recently certified that, as one news article put it, Iraq has met all but three of 18 original benchmarks set by Congress last year to measure security, political and economic progress. Even more heartening has been progress thats not measured by the benchmarks. More than 90,000 Iraqis, many of them Sunnis who once fought against the government, have signed up as Sons of Iraq to fight against the terrorists. Nor do they measure Prime Minister Nouri al Malikis new-found willingness to crack down on Shiite extremists in Basra and Sadr Cityactions that have done much to dispel suspicions of sectarianism.

The success of the surge has not changed Senator Obamas determination to pull out all of our combat troops. All that has changed is his rationale. In a New York Times op-ed and a speech this week, he offered his plan for Iraq in advance of his first fact finding trip to that country in more than three years. It consisted of the same old proposal to pull all of our troops out within 16 months. In 2007 he wanted to withdraw because he thought the war was lost. If we had taken his advice, it would have been. Now he wants to withdraw because he thinks Iraqis no longer need our assistance.

To make this point, he mangles the evidence. He makes it sound as if Prime Minister Maliki has endorsed the Obama timetable, when all he has said is that he would like a plan for the eventual withdrawal of U.S. troops at some unspecified point in the future.

Senator Obama is also misleading on the Iraqi military's readiness. The Iraqi Army will be equipped and trained by the middle of next year, but this does not, as Senator Obama suggests, mean that they will then be ready to secure their country without a good deal of help. The Iraqi Air Force, for one, still lags behind, and no modern army can operate without air cover. The Iraqis are also still learning how to conduct planning, logistics, command and control, communications, and other complicated functions needed to support frontline troops.

No one favors a permanent U.S. presence, as Senator Obama charges. A partial withdrawal has already occurred with the departure of five surge brigades, and more withdrawals can take place as the security situation improves. As we draw down in Iraq, we can beef up our presence on other battlefields, such as Afghanistan, without fear of leaving a failed state behind. I have said that I expect to welcome home most of our troops from Iraq by the end of my first term in office, in 2013.

But I have also said that any draw-downs must be based on a realistic assessment of conditions on the ground, not on an artificial timetable crafted for domestic political reasons. This is the crux of my disagreement with Senator Obama.

Senator Obama has said that he would consult our commanders on the ground and Iraqi leaders, but he did no such thing before releasing his plan for Iraq. Perhaps thats because he doesnt want to hear what they have to say. During the course of eight visits to Iraq, I have heard many times from our troops what Major General Jeffrey Hammond, commander of coalition forces in Baghdad, recently said: that leaving based on a timetable would be very dangerous.

The danger is that extremists supported by Al Qaeda and Iran could stage a comeback, as they have in the past when weve had too few troops in Iraq. Senator Obama seems to have learned nothing from recent history. I find it ironic that he is emulating the worst mistake of the Bush administration by waving the Mission Accomplished banner prematurely.

I am also dismayed that he never talks about winning the waronly of ending it. But if we dont win the war, our enemies will. A triumph for the terrorists would be a disaster for us. That is something I will not allow to happen as president. Instead I will continue implementing a proven counterinsurgency strategy not only in Iraq but also in Afghanistan with the goal of creating stable, secure, self-sustaining democratic allies.


Unbelievable does not begin to describe this.

In other words, McCain has to write it the way Obama and Shipley - Democrats both - would write it.   For McCain's piece to be published it has to conform to the parameters set by his opponent.

This sets a new standard for bias, and a new low for the New York Times. 

The FDA requires that there has to be a minimum amount of maple syrup in a product for it to be called maple syrup.

Maybe the FCC should institute a policy that there has to be a minimum amount of evenhandedness in a newspaper for it to be called a newspaper. 

If it ever does that, the Times will be scratching to find a new description.


Ken Berwitz

Barack Obama and his people have spent the last week or so crowing about how right they were that troop strength in Iraq should be reduced, and assuring us that President Bush's current position (i.e. we may be able to accelerate troop reduction) is a case of him listening to the great and powerful Obama.

This was dramatically buttressed by the Der Speigel article which quoted Iraq's President Nouri al-Maliki as saying he agreed with Obama's position.

The problem?  none of the above "facts" are true.

Here is an excerpt from a very well written article by Mark Impomeni of, laying it all out for us.  The bold print is mine:

We now know that Maliki did not endorse Obama's withdrawal timeline. The headline writer at Der Spiegel did. What Maliki did was call for U.S. troops to be withdrawn from Iraq as early as possible. That's no surprise announcement from an elected head of state with political considerations, and it is certainly no surprise from Maliki, who has been calling for an end to the occupation almost since he was sworn in.

Obama opposed the surge. He said that he was "not persuaded" that an additional 20,000 U.S. troops would have any impact on the level of violence. He campaigned on his opposition to the surge in the primaries. And he said that the surge was not succeeding . Indeed, Obama's entire campaign is based on his supposed superior judgment, which is based his opposition to the Iraq war from the beginning; although he was not in a position to have to take a meaningful vote on the war at the time. For Obama to now claim vindication for his arbitrary timetable based on the remarks of a man who would not be able to make such demands were it not for the success of the very strategy that Obama opposed, is a bit much. Obama did not all of a sudden become the man with the plan in Iraq because the elected leader there sought to curry favor with his constituents and a potential future American president by paying a lip service compliment to the latter's public position.

It was McCain who advocated for the surge long before it was announced, angering many on the right with his routine and unnecessary attacks on former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, who McCain sees as responsible for all things that have gone wrong in Iraq. It is McCain who has campaigned on his belief that withdrawals must be conditions-based, not arbitrarily ordered based on politics. And it has been McCain who has often remarked that he would rather lose the election than lose the war . McCain stands to benefit from any positive news from Iraq. Maliki's call for a timetable for withdrawal, had it happened, would have been the end result of the strategy McCain authored, championed, and stood by.Besides, it didn't happen. Maliki's spokesman says that the prime minister's remarks were, "misunderstood, mistranslated and not conveyed accurately."

It will be a clear measure of just how over-the-top biased media are if they ignore this.  I'm betting that, for the most part, they do.

My first inkling was when my wife put on NBC to watch the Today Show this morning and they did news briefs.  One of them was that al-Maliki had endorsed the Obama's plan but then, after being pressured by the White House, revised his position.

NBC offered exactly no proof of or even circumstantial evidence of the White House doing any such thing.  No need to, sheeple, you're just supposed to believe what we tell you.

I have one question about this:  If, knowing what the White House reaction would be, Nouri al-Maliki felt strong enough to actually endorse Mr. Obama's position, how could they have pressured him to change it?  By doing what? 

See my point?

steve schneider everyone is giving obama credit for his 16 mos withdrawal which is only possible because of the surge he opposed. this of course is ignored by the media. as we discussed in the past the victory parade in iraq will be led by all those whose plan would have been defeat. mccain is getting no credit for his plan which resulted in a victory. steve (07/21/08)


Ken Berwitz

Remember that great Burger King advertising campaign from years ago, when they sang "Have it your way, have it your way"?

Well it is now 2008 and Barack Obama is doing everything but singing that jingle as his position on Iraq jumps in several different directions simultaneously -- while he tells you, with a straight face - that it hasnt changed at all.

Ironically, he's probably right, too.  Since Mr. Obama has had so many differient positions on Iraq, it would be hard for him to say something now that he hasn't said in the past.

In April of this year, Peter Wehner, writing for Commentary Magazine, wrote an excellent article detailing Obama's statements in support (that's right, support) of what we were doing in Iraq.   I blogged about it then, but I think I think it needs a second airing.

I feel this way because, media in this country being what they are, most of the major venues ignored the facts and quotes unearthed by Wehner.  They conflicted with their coronation of Saint Barack as the new President.  But that doesn't change the facts that Wehner presented.

I strongly urge you to click the link above and read the entire article.  But, before you do, here are a few of its highlights:

Throughout his dramatic campaign to win his partys nomination for the presidency, Senator Barack Obama has tended to ignore the specifics of policy in favor of the generalities of emotion, centering his appeal to voters on vague promises of change and unity. But on one issue, above all others, Obama has remained fixated from the campaigns first moment, and that is the war in Iraq. By Obamas own account, the consistency of his stand on this war demonstrates more than anything else that he, a one-term United States Senator who arrived in Washington in 2005 with no foreign-policy experience, after an uneventful eight-year stint in the Illinois state senate, possesses the wisdom, the clear-sightedness, and the judgment to assume the responsibilities of the nations commander-in-chief.

Obama calls Iraq the most important foreign-policy decision in a generation. By the word decision, presumably, he means to refer at once to President Bushs decision to invade Iraq, Congresss decision to authorize that policy, and his own early decision to oppose any such action.

Indeed, Obama was not yet in the Senate, and the Senate had not yet voted to authorize the war, when, in a speech delivered in Chicago on October 2, 2002, he announced his view of the matter. Granting forthrightly that the Iraqi despot Saddam Hussein had repeatedly defied UN resolutions, thwarted UN inspection teams, developed chemical and biological weapons, and coveted nuclear capacity, and that he butchers his own people, Obama nevertheless held that, despite all these well-proven crimes, Saddam posed no imminent and direct threat to the United States or to his neighbors. What is more, he added, I know that even a successful war against Iraq will require a U.S. occupation of undetermined length, at undetermined cost, with undetermined consequences.

Alone among this years major Democratic candidates, then, Obama can claim an unspotted record of opposition to American involvement in Iraq and even a kind of prescience as to the subsequent course of events there. In any account of his electoral success so far, this factor must weigh as heavily as his natural eloquence and his ingratiating personality.

But Obamas thoughts on the war in Iraq did not begin and end with that one speech in October 2002. In fact, an examination of both his statements and his Senate votes over the intervening years demonstrates something very different from the consistency that he and his supporters have claimed for him. It demonstrates instead a record of problematically ad-hoc judgments at best, calculatingly cynical judgments at worst. Even if, for the sake of argument, one were to stipulate that Barack Obama was right in 2002, what does this subsequent record say about his fitness to serve?


Almost as soon as the war began in March 2003, Obama had second thoughts about his opposition to it. Watching the dramatic footage of the toppling of Saddams statue in Baghdad, and then the Presidents speech aboard the U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln, I began to suspect, he would write later in his autobiographical The Audacity of Hope (2006), that I might have been wrong. And these second thoughts seem to have stayed with him throughout the entire first phase of the occupation following our initial combat victory. As he told the Chicago Tribune in July 2004, Theres not that much difference between my position and George Bushs position at this stage.

This is hardly to say that he had suddenly metamorphosed into a hawk, let alone a supporter of the Presidents broader freedom agenda. Indeed, one would search long and hard for any words from this apostle of hope and change about the palpable benefits that democracy might bring to the Arabs and Muslims of the Middle East. Rather, he seems to have sensed a political weakness in his blanket opposition to a venture still enjoying broad support in the country, and one in which tens of thousands of American soldiers were risking their lives.

And so, in September 2004, in the heat of his campaign for the U.S. Senate, Obama said (according to an AP report) that even though Bush had bungled his handling of the war, simply pulling out of Iraq would make things worse. Therefore, he himself

would be willing to send more soldiers to Iraq if it is part of a strategy that the President and military leaders believe will stabilize the country and eventually allow America to withdraw.

If that strategy made sense and would lead ultimately to the pullout of U.S. troops but in the short term required additional troop strength to protect those who are already on the ground, then thats something I would support, said Obama.

In November, having won election to the U.S. Senate, Obama once again confirmed his determination to stay the course in Iraq in an interview with PBSs Charlie Rose. Once we go in, then were committed, he said, adding:

[O]nce the decision was made, then weve got to do everything we can to stabilize the country, to make it successful, because well have too much at stake in the Middle East. And thats the position that I continue to take.

I've said it many times here, and I'll say it again now.  Barack Obama is a machine politician, straight from the Chicago Democratic political machine.  I don't care how eloquently he speaks, he talks out of every side of his mouth.  He is whatever he needs to be to get votes.

If you vote for Obama based on what you think he might be, knowing that it is a pure guess and you could well be wrong, I suppose that makes at least some sense.  Not much, but some. 

But if you vote for Obama based on what he says he is, that makes no sense at all.


Ken Berwitz



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