Tags: Media | Transform | Iraq | Victory | Into | Domestic | Defeat

Media Transform Iraq Victory Into Domestic Defeat

Monday, 19 December 2005 12:00 AM

For some reason the slogan "If you can't beat 'em, join 'em" gained a sranglehold on our moral fantasy. In common practice, however, it's more like "If you can't beat 'em, then at least rain on their parade!"

My parades get rained on a lot. They get rained on every time those at the restaurant table are waiting for me to finish one of those five-minute jokes and, at the precise instant I'm about to pop the punch line, the waiter barges in and shouts, "Who gets the veal?"

Perhaps the best job – forgive me; it's now the SECOND-best job – of raining on a parade was evident in most American newspapers on October 12, 1957. A group of archeologists had finally proven bull-proof-and-pig-tight that Leif Erickson and his Vikings were the first Europeans to land in North America. They had excavated a complete Viking village in eastern Canada that dated back to the 900s. And when did they decide to announce this news? Just in time to make the front pages on COLUMBUS DAY.

Those pro-Viking archeologists knew they could never replace Columbus Day with Leif Ericksen Day. But they sure could rain on Columbus' parade.

The absolute best job of parade-drenching, however, was just before Christmas, 2005. The dazzling success of the Iraqi parliamentary elections was the kind of vindication of President Bush's policies sportscasters describe as a "rout," a "massacre" or a "humiliation" of the adversary. Do a thought-experiment. Just look at a map of the Middle East and say "Iraqi parliamentary elections" to yourself five times! Eleven million Iraqis voted "NO" to the insurgency, to Jihad and to Saddam Hussein.

If you see Cheney, Wolfowitz, Rumsfeld or anyone else in their clique, give out with a high-five. Americans have now indeed been welcomed as liberators! A defeat of this magnitude could simply not be allowed to sit by the Bush-haters. So, how do you get that much egg off your face? By changing the subject, and nothing can change the subject as effectively as Page One of the New York Times. And, sure enough; there it was!

Get it straight, now. The election in Iraq was Thursday, December 15. The success was apparent worldwide by Thursday evening American time. The Bush-bashers fell silent instantly and the headquarters of the "Iraq is Vietnam" crowd was chaotically evacuated by rooftop helicopters throughout Thursday night. Friday morning, however, brought mouth-to-mouth resuscitation to the frantic refugees from the good news from Iraq.

For a year the New York Times had been sitting on a story about President Bush authorizing the National Security Agency to spy on Americans inside America. At least "spying on Americans" was the impression that was calculated to sweep the nation once other media and 24/7 TV joined the rain dance – "Bush Authorizes Illegal Spying on Americans." A close reading of even the New York Times article itself would have shown that the Americans being eavesdropped were those with known connections to al-Qaida, and the spying was confined to listening to phone calls made from the U.S. to foreign countries. But since when have we been a nation of close readers?

There's a line in Jewish scripture – the Talmud, to be exact – that says "When the fox has his day, bow down to him." In modern times that translates into "Show the other guy a little sportsmanship when he scores big time!" No such luck. Couldn't the Bush-haters have allowed the president maybe half a day to savor his victory?

Absolutely not! That would have spiked his approval ratings, a veritable dagger into every liberal heart.

The happy news from Iraq was totally eclipsed by the "Illegal, immoral, unthinkable, breathtaking act of spying on our own people!" And all of it authorized by the Bush administration!"

Once upon a time weights and measures dictated the priorities and emphasis of news. The important stories trumped the less important. All journalists who tell you the Bush-NSA story was anywhere near as weighty as the Iraqi vote against the terrorists should have their credentials revoked and be forced to pay for their own cocktails and canapés at the press conferences of Washington lobbyists.

But that didn't stop Senators Russ Feingold and Carl Levin and Congressman Charles Rangel and the others from feigning shock – SHOCK – that a president would authorize spying on fellow Americans! The fact that the eavesdropped Americans were limited to those with known al-Qaida connections calling overseas was not lost. It was deliberately thrown away by the enemies of President Bush who piously insisted that "No American citizen is above the law." Also thrown away was the likelihood that such aggressive intelligence might have saved a lot of lives; conservative lives, liberal lives, all kinds of lives.

And why didn't the usually shrill Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi and Sen. Harry Reid join the rainmakers? Sorry. They had no choice but to admit they'd been briefed repeatedly on the NSA action by the White House – an action which, by the way, was reviewed every 45 days and shared with key congressional members of both parties. Not bad for a president they try to paint as Mussolini with a Texas twang.

If Hollywood were as conservative as it is liberal, it would bar actors and actresses from getting Academy Awards next year and limit the Oscar winners to those politicians who displayed such horror at this laudable act of American self-defense. Accuse me of not respecting the Constitution and I'll accuse you of not knowing there's a war going on. Accuse me of excusing a president I voted for of any and all abuses and I'll accuse you of ignorance of the extra-constitutional excesses of President Franklin Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln in wartime.

It worked. The shameful attempt to obliterate attention to signs of surging health in Iraq succeeded in shifting the national attention to the "Bush outrage" and away from the Bush victory. I like to hug those I debate on TV when I run into them later. How can I hug Katrina Vanden Heuvel of The Nation when she straight-facedly faced the cameras and declared, "How can we pretend to be bringing democracy to Iraq when we act in this country like the enemies we are fighting?" Maybe minus a few mass graves, huh, Katrina?

I disagree with President Bush on one major point. He should never have "admitted" he authorized NSA eavesdrops on targeted Americans.

Once exposed, he should have PROCLAIMED it!

And if it were ever to be revealed that the president had FAILED to use NSA's wizardry to track potential bad guys, he should be impeached.

And removed.


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For some reason the slogan "If you can't beat 'em, join 'em" gained a sranglehold on our moral fantasy.In common practice, however, it's more like "If you can't beat 'em, then at least rain on their parade!" My parades get rained on a lot.They get rained on every time...
Monday, 19 December 2005 12:00 AM
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