Sunday, June 22, 2008

Antiwar Columnist Wants More "Dead Americans Soldiers" on TV

Frank Rich, at the New York Times, laments the declining press coverage of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, quoting a CBS reporter who argued that the press isn't showing enough bodies of "dead American soldiers":

THE Iraq war’s defenders like to bash the press for pushing the bad news and ignoring the good. Maybe they’ll be happy to hear that the bad news doesn’t rate anymore. When a bomb killed at least 51 Iraqis at a Baghdad market on Tuesday, ending an extended run of relative calm, only one of the three network newscasts (NBC’s) even bothered to mention it.

The only problem is that no news from Iraq isn’t good news — it’s no news. The night of the Baghdad bombing the CBS war correspondent Lara Logan appeared as Jon Stewart’s guest on “The Daily Show” to lament the vanishing television coverage and the even steeper falloff in viewer interest. “Tell me the last time you saw the body of a dead American soldier,” she said. After pointing out that more soldiers died in Afghanistan than Iraq last month, she asked, “Who’s paying attention to that?”

Her question was rhetorical, but there is an answer: Virtually no one. If you follow the nation’s op-ed pages and the presidential campaign, Iraq seems as contentious an issue as Vietnam was in 1968. But in the country itself, Cindy vs. Michelle, not Shiites vs. Sunnis, is the hotter battle. This isn’t the press’s fault, and it isn’t the public’s fault. It’s merely the way things are.

In America, the war has been a settled issue since early 2007. No matter what has happened in Iraq since then, no matter what anyone on any side of the Iraq debate has had to say about it, polls have consistently found that a majority of Americans judge the war a mistake and want out. For that majority, the war is over except for finalizing the withdrawal details. They’ve moved on without waiting for the results of Election Day 2008 or sampling the latest hectoring ad from

Perhaps if Americans had been asked for shared sacrifice at the war’s inception, including a draft, they would be in 1968-ish turmoil now. But they weren’t, and they aren’t. In 2008, the Vietnam analogy doesn’t hold. The center does.

The good news for Democrats — and the big opportunity for Barack Obama — is that John McCain and the war’s last cheerleaders don’t recognize that immutable reality. They’re so barricaded in their own Vietnam bunker that they think the country is too. It’s their constant and often shrill refrain that if only those peacenik McGovern Democrats and the “liberal media” acknowledged that violence is down in Iraq — as indeed it is, substantially — voters will want to press on to “victory” and not “surrender.” And therefore go for Mr. McCain.

One neocon pundit, Charles Krauthammer, summed up this alternative-reality mind-set in a recent column piously commanding Mr. McCain to “make the election about Iraq” because “everything is changed,” and “we are winning on every front.” The war, he wrote, can be “the central winning plank of his campaign.”
Notice the obligatory reference to the evil "neocons."

Rich goes on further down to defend Barack Obama, where he claims "he has never called for a precipitous withdrawal."

Well, sorry, Frank Rich. Throughout 2007 Barack Obama was among the most implacable war opponents in the Senate,
calling the war a "failure" while pandering relentlessly to the surrender hawks of the Democratic Party base. As far back as November 2006, the Illinois Senator announced that he'd implement a troop drawdown immediately.

So what would help Frank Rich and his antiwar allies? More dead bodies on television?

We know the left cheers the bombings, and certainly the decline in violence is their worst nightmare. The fact that Obama's starting his move back to the center on the Iraq issue, as Rich strains to point out, shows his recognition that the United States has the reponsibility for the long-term security of the Iraqi people.

Barack Obama seems to know deep down - or at least he's now suggesting - that Americans have an interest in finishing the job honorably in Iraq. It goes without saying that John McCain does.

For war opponents like Frank Rich, however, there's no exit from Iraq that's too quick. Out of the way, John Murtha!!

If we see an uptick in the horrendous killings in Iraq, Rich will be among the first to revert back to the old line that the surge has failed.

It's all part the long leftist line of creative arguments in furtherance of retreat, and it's not going to work.

See also, "
McCain's Won the Iraq Argument."