Saturday, June 03, 2006

Don't Look Down

It's a long way to the bottom, just as not as long as it used to be. What are a few bad polling numbers between friends?
Supporting Our Troops Over a Cliff - New York Times:What the White House has always had instead of a strategy for victory is a strategy for public relations. That, too, fell under siege over Memorial Day weekend.

Call the P.R. strategy "attack, clear and hold": the administration attacks the credibility of reporters covering the war and tries to clear troubling Iraq images from American TV screens so that popular support might hold until a miracle happens on the ground. This plan first surfaced when the insurgency exploded in spring 2004: Ted Koppel was pilloried by White House surrogates for reading the names of the fallen on "Nightline" and Paul Wolfowitz told Congress that "a lot of the press are afraid to travel very much, so they sit in Baghdad and they publish rumors."

Upon being told that 34 journalists had been killed in the war up to that point, Mr. Wolfowitz apologized, but the strategy was never rescinded. Mr. Bush routinely chastises the press for reporting on bombings rather than "success" stories like Tal Afar. His new top domestic policy adviser, Karl Zinsmeister, has called American war correspondents "whiny and appallingly soft," and he declared last June that "our struggle in Iraq as warfare" was over except for "periodic flare-ups in isolated corners." That's the news the administration wants: the insurgency is always in its last throes. We'd realize that this prognosis was "basically accurate," Dick Cheney has explained, if only the non-Fox press didn't concentrate on car bombs in Baghdad.

Now more than 70 journalists have died in Iraq, more than in any modern war, including two members of a CBS News crew killed in the bombing that injured the correspondent Kimberly Dozier. This tragedy also took place on Memorial Day, which Ms. Dozier was honoring by trying to do one of those Iraq "good news" stories that the administration faults the press for ignoring: the story of an American soldier who, despite having been injured, was "fighting on in memory of those who have fallen," as she had e-mailed colleagues. Once that good-news story died in the bombing, so, one imagines, did the administration strategy of pinning the bad news in Iraq on the reporters who risk their lives to hang in there. Or so, in the name of simple decency, we might hope.
Simple decency? From this administration? Surely thou art kidding.
Those reporters, at least, have the right to leave. Not so the troops. General Batiste's observation about the "almost surreal" disconnect between the home front and the war is damningly true, even in Washington. As the violence in both Iraq and Afghanistan spiraled before and after Memorial Day, Congress kept its eye on its own ball. In a bipartisan display of honor among thieves, Democrats and Republicans banded together to decry the F.B.I. for searching the office of a Democratic congressman, William Jefferson, who had been accused of hiding $90,000 in questionable cash in his freezer. Even more ludicrously, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales — a man who damaged our troops incalculably by countenancing an official policy of torture — finally threatened to resign on principle. The principle he was standing up for, however, was not the Geneva Conventions but the F.B.I.'s right to raid Mr. Jefferson's office.
Oh well, at least he found a principle, I was kind of wondering if he had any at all.
The marriage-amendment campaign will be kicked off tomorrow with a Rose Garden benediction by the president. Though the amendment has no chance of passing, Mr. Bush apparently still thinks, as he did in 2004, that gay-baiting remains just the diversion to distract from a war gone south.

So much for the troops. For all the politicians' talk about honoring those who serve, Washington's record is derelict: chronic shortages in body and Humvee armor; a back-door draft forcing troops with expired contracts into repeated deployments; inadequate postwar health care and veterans' benefits. And that's just the short list. Now a war without end is running off the rails and putting an undermanned army in still greater jeopardy. "Today, the Americans are just one more militia lost in the anarchy," Nir Rosen, who has covered Iraq since the invasion, wrote in The Washington Post last weekend.
Hiding in plain sight, like the bad imitation of an Agatha Christie novel, except they have targets painted on them.

But please, don't let gays enjoy the benefits of might upset the apple cart. Can't have those guys breaking any mountains.

Remember, it isn't the fall that kills you, it's the sudden stop at the end.

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