Friday, September 24, 2004

Fantasy World of Spin

When John Kerry said "President Bush is living in his own fantasy world of spin," who knew how prescient that statement would be. At yesterday's news conference in the rose garden, Bush, and his echo Iraqi Prime Minister Ayad Allawi, continued to promote his optimistic projections for Iraq (as Jon Stewart said, the roses in the garden matched the color of his glasses.) And the press isn't buying it.

For example, check out this AP headline:

Iraq Violence Eclipses Rosy Declarations

Prime Minister Ayad Allawi and President Bush have declared that Iraq is on the road to stability, with the Iraqi leader saying elections would be possible in all but three or four of Iraq's 18 provinces. But the map of Iraq is scarred with violence every day. The capital is wracked by kidnappings and bombings. And September is shaping up as one of the deadliest months for American soldiers.
Salon's War Room has this analysis of Allawi's claim that "if you care to look at Iraq properly, and go from Basra to Nasiriyah to Kut to Diyala to Najaf to Karbala to Diwaniya to Samaraa to Kirkuk to Sulaymaniyah to Dahuk to Arbil, there are no problems. It's safe, it's good."

Diyala: Ten days ago in Baqubah, a city in the province of Diyala, gunmen opened fire on a van of Iraqi policemen. At least 11 people were killed.

Kirkuk: In Kirkuk earlier this month, a car bomb killed at least 20 people and wounded 36 more.

Najaf: Just this week, U.S. forces and Iraqi police arrested aides to Muqtada al-Sadr in a pre-dawn raid. The take, according to Iraq's minister of state: enough weapons to fill five trucks, including "large amounts" of dynamite and other explosives and 100 AK-47 rifles.

Dahuk: Although this northern province is apparently largely peaceful, its governor was the target of a roadside-bomb assassination attempt earlier this month.

Basra: While Basra is also held up as a "success story" in Iraq, a BBC correspondent working there now says that reporters "wouldn't dream of" staying in Basra on their own because the "chances of being kidnapped are too great."

And Paul Krugman and Bob Herbert of The New York Times weigh in with their usual insight on the editorial page today:

Bob Herbert, Bush Upbeat As Iraq Burns

As the situation in Iraq moves from bad to worse, the president, based on his public comments, seems to be edging further and further from reality. This is disturbing, to say the least. The news from Iraq is filled with reports of kidnappings and beheadings, of people pleading desperately for their lives, of American soldiers being ambushed and killed, of clusters of Iraqis being blown to pieces by suicide bombers, and of the prospects for a credible election in January tumbling toward nil.

The war effort has deteriorated so drastically that the administration is planning to take more than $3 billion earmarked for crucial reconstruction projects and shift them to security programs designed to ward off the increasingly deadly insurgency. A classified National Intelligence Estimate prepared for the president contained no really good prospects for Iraq. The best-case scenario was a country with only tenuous stability. The worst potential outcome was civil war. The intelligence estimate was prepared in July, and the situation has only worsened since then.

Paul Krugman, Let's Get Real

At the root of this folly is a continuing refusal to face uncomfortable facts. Confronted with a bleak C.I.A. assessment of the Iraq situation - one that matches the judgment of just about every independent expert - Mr. Bush's response is that "they were just guessing." "In many ways," Mr. Cordesman writes, "the administration's senior spokesmen still seem to live in a fantasyland."

Fantasyland extended to the Rose Garden yesterday, where Mr. Bush said polls asking Iraqis whether their nation was on the right track were more positive than similar polls asking Americans about their outlook - and he seemed to consider that a good sign.

Where is Mr. Bush taking us? As the reality of Iraq gets worse, his explanations of our goals get ever vaguer. "The security of our world," Mr. Bush told the U.N., "is found in the advancing rights of mankind."

Bush/Cheney are losing the message war right now, hopefully giving Kerry/Edwards momentum going into the first debate next week. Is this the shift we've been waiting for? The Boston Globe thinks it very well might be:

THIS WEEK, John Kerry got laryngitis but found his voice. And if Kerry rebounds to win the presidency, this period will be seen as the public turning point in the campaign.


Post a Comment

<< Home