Tuesday, January 09, 2007

More Old Media Wheezing On Iraq

After reading this, I can’t believe that the Philadelphia Inquirer doesn’t understand why it’s experiencing a loss in readership and ad revenue.

Even though this originated from McClatchy, the Inquirer still chose to publish it on Sunday (and please keep in mind that, somehow, this is supposed to be considered “hard news”).

Democrats now face biggest hurdle: Iraq

The party has offered no concrete proposal to end the war. That could anger its liberal base, which has been demanding action to stop the bloodshed.
Before the story even starts, I have a problem with the headline. Based on this CNN quick vote, I would say that a lot more people besides the “liberal base” of the Democratic Party want to see the Iraq travesty brought to an end.

By Steven Thomma
McClatchy Newspapers

WASHINGTON - As the applause of their first days in power fades, Democrats face the daunting reality that their reign probably will be judged not on easy tasks such as raising the minimum wage, but on how they handle the Iraq war, an issue that divides their party and defies easy solution.
First of all, who said that raising the minimum wage would be an “easy” issue? Are you parroting George Will, who of course thinks that the minimum wage should be zero?

(Actually, George may be onto something with his theory of letting “the market” determine how important one’s job is perceived to be by translating that into a dollar wage. I’d like to see that applied to him, because, in that department, I’m sure he’s sinking like the proverbial stone.)

And the whole “division” over the Iraq war is a pretty laughable non-issue at this point, but of course that fits well into the “irascible, childish Democrats not letting The Decider do his job” narrative.

Democratic leaders oppose President Bush's expected escalation of the war. They urge instead a U.S. troop withdrawal starting in four to six months. And they'll conduct oversight hearings on Iraq in Congress, starting Wednesday in the Senate and Jan. 17 in the House of Representatives.
Is there a problem here?

But Iraq isn't part of their much-ballyhooed agenda for their first 100 hours of business, even though 3 out of 4 Americans call it their top priority for the government and despite it's being a major reason for the Democrats' takeover of Congress.
I purposely left the “it’s” typo in, by the way, just because I’m in a snotty mood at the moment over this (and I got a kick out of “’much-ballyhoed’ against the backdrop of the ‘fading applause’” fiction).

So “three out of four Americans” call Iraq the top priority, huh? And, as that CNN Quick Vote I keep harping back to states, 81 percent of the people of this country don’t think additional troops will do anything about the violence.

And how exactly does all of this represent “division”?

The Democrats have offered no concrete proposal to end the war.
Define “concrete proposal?” Define “end the war?”

As noted here, Ted Kennedy is going to do all he can to keep Dubya from escalating the war. That sounds pretty concrete to me, and definitely a good first start. And if the vast majority of the people of this country didn’t trust the Democrats to do a better job than the Republicans (how could they have done any worse?), then they wouldn’t have won Congress on November 7th, and Dubya’s approval numbers probably would have broken the 30-percent ceiling by now.

And since Steven Thomma or whoever edited this dreck didn’t research what either Patrick Murphy, John Murtha or John Kerry have been proposing for Iraq before they made this ridiculous statement, then I won’t bother to do their work for them.

The only hope of ending the Iraq war rests in a political solution, not a military one. The vast majority of the people of this country have known that for some time, notwithstanding Dubya and some clueless journalists.

That could anger the party's liberal base, which demands action to end the war. At the same time, bowing to that base could threaten the party's broader appeal.
What the hell does “broader appeal” mean? Again, 81 percent sounds pretty “broad” to me.

Democratic leaders say there is little they can do directly to end the war. They note that Bush has the power as commander-in-chief to send troops where he will and that he would veto any legislation to withdraw troops.

"To pretend," House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D., Md.) said, "that we could deal with that in the first 100 hours would be unrealistic and dishonest."
Good for Hoyer – he’s right, though it will have to be addressed PDQ after that, and the Dems know it.

Rather, Democrats hope their opposition to a "surge" in troop levels plus the publicity of televised hearings will satisfy their base while putting more pressure on Bush to end the war.
Satisfying a “base” isn’t the issue here. At this point, the “base” is the majority of this country (and somehow I think putting surge in quotes is an acknowledgement even by Thomma that what it really means is escalation).

Concerns about satisfying a "base" are ridiculous here, but this serves as a launching point to make this article even more ridiculous, if you can believe that.

"The public has spoken. The polls are very clear," said Rep. John P. Murtha (D., Pa.), who'll open the House hearings. "The policy has to be changed."

Given their reluctance to force that change now…
Here go those “weak-kneed, reluctant” Democrats again (so “divided” and all that, even though Hoyer just said why they’re not going to tackle Iraq in the first 100 hours)…

…Democratic leaders could be hoping to build a chain reaction. Their hearings could drive an already disgruntled public to demand stronger action, which then could embolden the Democratic-led Congress to use its power of the purse to insist that money for the troops be used to pull them out of Iraq.
OK, so…the Dems are going to launch hearings on the Iraq war…to get the public to “demand action” even though it did that pretty thoroughly on November 7th…to “embolden” a Democratic congress that has already stated what it plans to do…so that it uses its power of the purse…to get Dubya to pull troops out of Iraq…even though Dubya has already said that he has no intention of withdrawing anyone and plans only to escalate.

That is perhaps the most confusing bit of editorializing that I have ever read in what purports to be a “news” story (which, by the way, isn’t “news” about Iraq at all, but just commentary on some kind of “metadata” that was received from God knows where).

And as I said, this “story” is about to get even more ridiculous.

The antiwar left doesn't want to wait.

About two dozen war protesters disrupted a Democratic news conference on ethics reform last week, chanting, "Troops out now."

Emboldened by the primary defeat of Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman of Connecticut, though he went on to win the November election as an independent, antiwar liberals also warn of more primary challenges to those who balk at ending the war.

"It could get very nasty within the party," said Tom Matzzie, the Washington director of the liberal MoveOn.org Political Action. "We have a presidential-nomination fight coming up. And we have a revived Democratic grassroots that feels confident challenging Democrats in primaries."

He said he welcomed Democratic opposition to the troop surge, as well as hearings. But he pressed for more forceful action, such as using Congress' power over spending or the War Powers Act to force a withdrawal.

"The grassroots wants to see opposition to escalation, but we're not going to be overly patient if there's no action on an exit," he said. "Oversight is needed. But that's not enough. Congress needs to force a change in U.S.-Iraq policy."
With all due respect to Tom Mattzie, this is not the time to be vocal about trying to turn out Democratic politicians (but of course, quoting him helps cultivate the “berserk left” theme, even though this is “in play.”) The Democrats have to be granted time to try and accomplish something.

Angering their base is risky for Democrats. But appearing captive to it also carries risks, as Republicans learned last year when they invited a public backlash by bowing to Christian conservatives in the case of Terri Schiavo, a brain-damaged Florida woman.
Oh mah gawd…

If anyone can explain to me what the Terri Schiavo fiasco (who was a lot worse off than being merely “brain damaged,” by the way) has to do with our troops fighting, suffering and dying in Iraq, I would be extremely interested in finding out.

"Both parties have a base that is militant and angry, and they're very demanding," said Dick Armey, the former Republican House majority leader.

"And they're going to show up constantly and demand that each party conduct the affairs of the House in a manner to appease that militant angry base. If you do that, as the Republicans did in some instances, you make yourself less attractive to a broad spectrum of voters."
"Broad spectrum" and "broader appeal" are code phrases by the way which mean, in essence based on how they're used here, that the Dems should collectively sit down and STFU, if you catch my drift.

Am I the only one who thinks there’s something wrong when the Inquirer feels that it can quote someone like Dick “Barney Fag” Armey and consider him an objective source about anything?

Rest assured, Bruce Toll and Brian Tierney of Philadelphia Media Holdings L.L.C., that your dwindling readership has thoroughly unmasked you as the bought-and-paid-for conservative hacks that you are based on nonsense like this, and your cheap attempts to use this once-proud newspaper to serve as your personal house organ is the main reason above all others why it is dying an inch at a time.

And by the way, our troops deserve much better reporting than this.

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