Sunday, June 18, 2006

Cutting Through The Spin

There's a lot of talk this week about how Democrats are blowing their chances to win back one or both chambers of Congress in this year's midterm elections. The talk started with the Zarqawi killing and the admininstration's p.r. offensive to tell the American people that progress is being made in Iraq. Then Karl Rove's attorney announced that Special Prosecutor Fitzgerald had told Rove that he would not be indicted in the CIA leak case and the GOP celebrated publicly that the preznit's and the party's fortunes were turning around. The press began to run stories like "Bush Making a Comeback?" and "Dems on Defensive" as Karl Rove employed another p.r. offensive to brand any war opponents as "cut-and-runners" and "defeatists" who were trying to cost the United States "victory" in the war on terror. A new CNN poll was released showing Democrats losing 7 points in one month on the question of whether Americans wanted Democrats to take over power in the Congress after this fall's midterm elections. The talk on the Sunday shows this morning has been how Democrats risk blowing an opportunity to win power in November because they don't have any coherent plans to counteract the GOP's p.r. offensives. Frank Rich wrote in today's New York Times that Rove's chances of winning with a losing hand this November are pretty good because "as long as the Democrats keep repeating their own mistakes, they will lose to the party whose mistakes are, if nothing else, packaged as one heckuva show."

And that's really the point about all of this: it's one big bullshit show. Rove's p.r. offensive calling the Dems "cut-and-runners," the "debate" held in the House this week on the Iraq war where Republicans thumped their chests and called Dems "defeatists" for not sticking by the preznit's "plan for victory" in Iraq, even the Zarqawi killing and the WH press offensive that came on the heels of that (including a visit to Baghdad by the preznit) all contribute to the perception that the WH and the GOP have turned things around, but the reality is much different.

The Zaraqawi killing didn't decrease the violence in Iraq. Despite new security measures implemented by the al-Maliki government, the number of terrorist suicide bomb incidents in Iraq remains high, the number of sectarian killings remains high, the carnage remains high. Just today, militants kidnapped 10 bakery workers in Baghdad and a militant group linked to Al Qaeda claimed responsibility for the bombs that killed 43 people yesterday in Iraq. It is indicative that Bush's visit to Iraq had to remain secret and limited to deep in the Green Zone, just as in November 2003, because the insurgency would target him if they had known he was there. It is also no accident that two American soldiers were taken prisoner by insurgents after a surprise attack on their Humvee south of Baghdad just two weeks after Zarqawi was killed. It seems clear the insurgents in Iraq, both Al Qaeda and the homegrown Sunnis, are letting the U.S. and the Iraqi government know nothing has changed and they can attack and kill virtually at will.

Karl Rove's p.r. offensive to smear Democrats as "defeatists" may help the GOP retain power after the fall midterms. And we should certainly never underestimate the Democrats' ability to fuck things up. But no matter whether the GOP wins or loses in the November midterms, their p.r. offensives don't mean anything to the reality in Iraq. Reality cannot be manipulated. For three years now, the situation in Iraq has worsened. The Preznit's "Stay the course" policy has not worked. If the administration wishes to continue with the policy as is, they become the real "defeatists". Because as John Murtha said this morning on Meet The Press, the administration's Iraq policy is a "failed policy wrapped in illusion." You can fool people for a while with propaganda and p.r. offensives and other gimmicks. But at some point, the situation in iraq has to get better. At some point, the situation in Afghanistan also has to stabilize (2 more Americans were killed in Afghanistan yesterday and the U.S has carried out 340 airstrikes against Taliban insurgents over the past 3 months, more than double the number carried out in Iraq, as fighting with the Taliban intensifies.) And if those two things don't happen, then all the propaganda and p.r. offensives in the world won't save this preznit from being the guy who screwed up two wars. And currently, both these wars/occupations are becoming more unstable, not more stable.

Can the Democrats really be so depleted of strong strategic thinkers? Are they simply too fragmented and self serving to play as a single team?
I can see how they, perhaps played a poker hand over the Rove thing, and didn’t have an ace.
More troubling is that the conspiracy theories, and I abhor the bloody things, might actually have a grain of truth; the current powers are systematically subverting the system.
It is odd that the Democrats should be so bereft of direction and traction at this stage. Frightening to consider that any number might have sold their souls to the devil.
Cartledge, never underestimate the Democrat's ability to drown out an semblence of a coherent message with nonsense.
Dems are fragmented, it's true. But many Republicans are drones who willingly take dicatation straight from the RNC talking points when they want to find out what they think on an issue (immigration and the Dubai ports deal being two lone exclusions to that rule.)
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