First-The Turn, written by William Kristol:
Hot July brings cooling showers, / Apricots and gillyflowers, as Sara Coleridge's doggerel has it. But for the American antiwar movement, this July brought only a cold drizzle, wilted blossoms, and bitter fruit.
For the Iraq war's opponents, July began as a month of hope. It ended in retreat. It began with Democratic unity in proclaiming the inevitability of American defeat. It ended with respected military analysts--Democrats, no less!--reporting that the situation on the ground had improved, and that the war might be winnable. It began with a plan for a series of votes in Congress that were supposed to stampede nervous Republicans against the continued prosecution of the war. It ended with the GOP spine stiffened, no antiwar legislation passed, and the Democratic Congress adjourning in disarray, with approval ratings lower than President Bush's. It began with Democratic presidential candidates competing in their antiwar pandering. It ended with them having second thoughts--with Barack Obama, losing ground to Hillary Clinton because he seemed naive about real world threats, frantically suggesting that he would invade Pakistan.
July also began with the liberal media disparaging the troops. It ended with the liberal media in retreat. The New Republic had to acknowledge that its pseudonymous soldier's account of an incident purportedly showing the dehumanizing effects of the Iraq conflict was a lie: It had taken place in Kuwait (if it happened at all), before this imaginative private ever saw the horrors of war. The New York Times was so shocked to discover in late July that
public opinion hadn't continued to move against the war that it redid a poll. The answer didn't change.
This last incident, though minor, is revealing. On July 24 the Times reported that a new survey had found an increase in the number of Americans retrospectively backing the liberation of Iraq:
Americans' support for the initial invasion of Iraq has risen somewhat as the White House has continued to ask the public to reserve judgment about the war until at least the fall. In a New York Times/CBS News poll conducted over the weekend, 42 percent of Americans said that looking back, taking military action in Iraq was the right thing to do, while 51 percent said the United States should have stayed out of Iraq. . . . Support for the invasion had been at an all-time low in May, when only 35 percent of Americans said the invasion of Iraq was the right thing and 61 percent said the United States should have stayed out.
In the Times's view, as explained on its website, this result was "counterintuitive"--so much so that the editors had the poll repeated to see whether they had "gotten it right." Turns out they had.
As the Wall Street Journal's James Taranto commented: "Well, two cheers for the paper's diligence, but this also seems to be about as close as we're going to get to an admission of bias: an acknowledgment that those at the Times are flummoxed that the public is not responding the way they expect to all the bad news they've been reporting."
Read page #2 also, for the full flavor.
Second- I clicked on Talking Points memo,(Let me rename this piece, "denial of progress" or better, the "Perfect example" of the NEXT one I am going to show you) knowing a bit about that blog, I knew it would be a differing view of previous article.
They list all the bad news they could find regarding Iraq:
It's been a dispiriting week in Iraq. The largest Sunni Arab bloc quit the Maliki government. Defense Secretary Robert Gates was admittedly discouraged over the lack of political progress in Iraq and conceded the administration "might have misjudged the difficulty of achieving reconciliation between Iraq's sectarian factions." Chairman of the Joint Chiefs nominee Navy Adm. Michael Mullen acknowledged "there does not appear to be much political progress" in Iraq. Asked about success, Mullen added, "[B]ased on the...lack of political reconciliation...I would be concerned about whether we'd be winning or not."
Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, meanwhile, is "increasingly unable to pull the government out of its paralysis," and is frequently "consumed by conspiracy theories." What's more, Maliki, who vowed in November that Iraqi security forces would be fully ready to take control by June 2007, now concedes he suspects U.S. troops may be needed in Iraq for at least another five years.
Then they end with this:
With all of this discouraging news coming just within the last several days, it should come as no surprise that William Kristol is now completely convinced that he has the momentum on his side.
Which brings us to piece number #3, the writer very well could have been using The Talking Points Memo as their example when writing it, although they weren't, it is just coincidence that this next one PERFECTLY describes the writers of the Talking Points Memo rag...
The Iraq Shuffle, written by, Matthew Continetti:
Last week, when the New York Times published an op-ed arguing that Gen. David Petraeus should be allowed more time to pursue his counterinsurgency strategy in Iraq, supporters of President Bush's "surge" got excited. The political momentum seemed to shift in their direction. But Bush's supporters shouldn't get carried away. They are in danger of seriously underestimating the ability of those who believe the war is lost or was always unwinnable to ignore, deny, and attack all news of positive developments. They should not underestimate the popularity of what you might call the Iraq shuffle.
Antiwar activity seemed to crescendo in July, when leaks to the New York Times and Washington Post suggested the Bush administration was planning a significant reduction in American forces or a major shift in strategic goals in Iraq in coming months. The leaks--combined with congressional demands for a progress report on political and security "benchmarks" in Iraq and public criticism from several GOP senators that the current war strategy isn't working--caught the administration off guard. It scrambled to complete the progress report, explain the lack of political progress in Baghdad, and fight off further Republican defections.
It appears the administration was successful. In the House on July 12, only 4 Republicans voted with Democrats to pass the "Responsible Redeployment from Iraq Act," fewer than the 10 Democrats who crossed party lines to vote against the bill. And in the Senate on July 18, only 4 Republicans voted with Democrats to invoke cloture on Levin-Reed, the most popular antiwar amendment mandating major troop reductions by next spring. When the vote failed, Senate majority leader Harry Reid pulled the Defense Authorization Bill from the floor rather than allow votes on Republican amendments that probably would have passed easily. Meanwhile, the USA Today/Gallup poll showed a majority of Americans wanted to hear Gen. Petraeus's scheduled September report to Congress before supporting any drastic moves to end the war.
Those developments set the stage for a hard week for antiwar congressional Democrats eager to cause maximum damage to the administration before the August recess. It all began on Monday, July 30, when the headline "A War We Might Just Win" appeared on the Times opinion page over a piece by Brookings Institution scholars Michael O'Hanlon and Kenneth Pollack. The two left-leaning national security experts, backers of the invasion of Iraq but also critics of the administration's "miserable handling" of war policy, recently returned from their second (O'Hanlon) and third (Pollack) trip to Iraq. They found that the United States is "finally getting somewhere," at least "in military terms." O'Hanlon and Pollack conclude: "The surge cannot go on forever. But there is enough good happening on the battlefields of Iraq today that Congress should plan on sustaining the effort at least into 2008."
These words, coming from two well-regarded members of the Democratic foreign policy establishment and appearing on the nation's most liberal editorial page, resonated profoundly among war supporters in the White House and Congress. Right-wing radio talk show hosts began citing the O'Hanlon/Pollack op-ed, as did House Republicans during a debate on Iraq policy. Republican presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani told talk show host Bill Bennett that when he read the piece, "I dropped my coffee." Supporters of the surge, who had long been aware of positive developments in Anbar province and elsewhere, felt as if their message finally was getting out.
Is it? It is hard to say. Antiwar Democrats immediately started dancing the Iraq shuffle, in which you ignore your opponent's arguments, shift the terms of the debate, and attack his motivation and character. Witness the left's reaction to a recent interview Petraeus gave to conservative talk show host Hugh Hewitt. Rather than rebutting Petraeus's findings, lefty bloggers accused the general of being a partisan political actor. Or consider the liberal, antiwar Center for American Progress's "Progress Report" of July 31, entitled "Bush's Enablers." The email newsletter is sent to left-wing political operatives, activists, and journalists throughout the country and is a reliable barometer of progressive opinion.
Rather than rebut O'Hanlon and Pollack's evidence of progress in Anbar, the reduction in (still high) civilian fatality rates, and the growing capability, integration, and accountability of Iraqi army units, the Progress Report said the authors were "cherry-picking anecdotal signs of progress in order to justify continuing a war they supported from the beginning." Rather than acknowledge the extraordinary alliance between coalition forces and the tribal sheikhs who rule Anbar, the Progress Report redirected attention to the problems facing the Iraqi national government--problems O'Hanlon and Pollack acknowledge in their op-ed. And rather than assuming its opponents argue in good faith, the Progress Report accused O'Hanlon and Pollack of "providing political cover for the administration's misguided war policies."
Read the rest of that one too, it is amazing how the Talking Points Memo just proved without a doubt the accuracy of Matthew Continetti's insight into the anti-war liberal left mind. He certainly has their number.
I am sure we will see much more of that Iraq Shuffle as the weeks go by and more and more progress is reported.