Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Narrative on Iraq is Right, but those darn FACTS keep Changing on Us!

The New York Times allows that after preliminary signs that the Surge is having a serious positive effect on diminishing number and scale of the bloody events in Baghdad & Anbar Provinces, some crow, disguised as exquisite haute cuinsine, appears to be in the process of being consumed in a very low-key sotto voce manner. Here is James Taranto's WSJ notations on this process:

For a long time, the media have presented a defeatist narrative about Iraq, and Democratic politicians have obediently followed, demanding that America flee immediately. Now, with a presidential election approaching and Gen. David Petraeus's new strategy showing signs of success, a counternarrative is developing, and the Dems are changing their tune. Consider this astonishing report from yesterday's New York Times:

Even as they call for an end to the war and pledge to bring the troops home, the Democratic presidential candidates are setting out positions that could leave the United States engaged in Iraq for years.

John Edwards, the former North Carolina senator, would keep troops in the region to intervene in an Iraqi genocide and be prepared for military action if violence spills into other countries. Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York would leave residual forces to fight terrorism and to stabilize the Kurdish region in the north. And Senator Barack Obama of Illinois would leave a military presence of as-yet unspecified size in Iraq to provide security for American personnel, fight terrorism and train Iraqis.

These positions and those of some rivals suggest that the Democratic bumper-sticker message of a quick end to the conflict--however much it appeals to primary voters--oversimplifies the problems likely to be inherited by the next commander in chief. Antiwar advocates have raised little challenge to such positions by Democrats.

What a change from January, when Mrs. Clinton, arguably the least unrealistic of the major Democratic candidates, was petulantly demanding that the president " 'extricate our country' from Iraq by the time he leaves office in 2009," as the Times put it at the time.

What about the Times's statement that "antiwar advocates have raised little challenge to such positions by Democrats"? There is certainly some truth to it. Markos "Kos" Moulitsas, the Angry Left's answer to the Htoo twins, was seen temporizing on "Meet the Press" yesterday:

We're not going to get out while we have George Bush as president. I mean, so if we say we want to be out in three months, clearly we could be out yesterday, I'd want to be out yesterday. I also understand, as a veteran who worked in logistics, that you can't pull out 150,000 troops overnight or even in three months. So, yes, there's an ideal situation, which is let's get them out as quickly as possible, so that the poll questions in that regard I think are very much moving in semantics. But I do agree with Harold [Ford] the, that we, we do need to work together, and I hope you'll be at next year's YearlyKos conference . . .

On the other hand, as blogger Jules Crittenden quips, "NYT, meet Cindy Sheehan." As the Associated Press reported, three days before that Times piece ran, Sheehan announced that she plans to run against Rep. Nancy Pelosi, the House speaker, because Pelosi has not moved to impeach the president over Iraq's liberation.

It may be said that the Times was right to ignore Sheehan. After all, she is a fringe figure, an America-hating crackpot whose race against Pelosi is utterly quixotic and futile. But all this was equally true in the summer of 2005, when Sheehan camped out in Crawford, Texas, and became a media cause célèbre by issuing a series of demands for the president of the United States.

But back then, as a journalist recently said in another context, the narrative was right, even if the facts were wrong.

Evan Thomas at Newsweak may have invented the liberal mantra of the twenty-first century---narratives are essential, facts are tangential. Or who cares about the baby, the bath water must go and everything with it! Sorta like"we had to destroy the village in order to save it." Or as Taranto puts it:
The narrative was right, but the facts were wrong." This is reminiscent of the "fake but accurate" defense of CBS's Bush National Guard hoax. If Thomas were giving a plainer account of what happened, he would have said something like this: Our reporting was guided by our prejudices, and even though the story turned out to be false, we stand behind our prejudices.

Last night on Jon Stewart's The Daily Show, William Kristol was the grinning punching bag for JS on Iraq, not mentioning to JS and his anti-Bush peanut gallery Dick Durbin's half-hearted admission that things might be going better than the Dems thought they would. Kristol might have noted that Harry Reid called the Surge a failure and our mission in Iraq a "defeat" a couple of weeks after it was announced back in the end of March. But he demurred and let Stewart do his rain-dance rant.

But Kristol did finally end by noting that we should let the facts speak for themselves---something the liberals rarely do, even when they on occasion recognize facts for what they are: REALITY.

Let's hope Petraeus has more good news to report when he finally gets back to DC in September. Because facts-on-the-ground have a way of changing during wartime even after Truth has become a casualty.

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