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September 12, 2007

A Thought on the Peaches and Ryan Show
Posted by Heather Hurlburt

Is it just me, or are we collectively falling prey again to the hypnotic effect of men in uniform?  Don't we all agree that the purpose of the surge was supposed to be to create space for the political settlement, and if so, isn't really the more important presentation Ambassador Crocker's on whether and how there has been any political progress?  And yet that is drawing only a tiny portion of the media coverage and content -- and I guess the questions and comment from members of Congress as well.  An honorable exception being Ilan's extensive comments below.

In point of fact, I'm afraid this represents a really successful re-framing by the Administration, because while the military side of the report is mixed, the political side is unrelentingly grim; and while everyone was afraid to beat up too much on General Petraeus in his gallant uniform, Rs and Ds alike would have piled on Ambassador Crocker in his poor civilian striped pants had he been there alone.


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In point of fact, I'm afraid this represents a really successful re-framing by the Administration

Do you have any evidence for this, Heather? At least in the coverage I saw last night on the cable networks, the contrary arguments focusing on the political situation and the broader context were amply and ably defended - especially by Joe Biden, who was quite compelling and took no prisoners.

There was no need to "pile on" Crocker, since the picture he himself presented was actually quite gloomy, and it was only necessary to firmly and patiently call attention to the evidence of his own report. Similarly, the skeptics were able to make a number of telling points in regard to Petraeus's testimony.

The most remembered exchange of these hearings is going to be Petraeus's answer to the Republican John Warner in which he indicated he was not sure the war was making us safer, and hadn't really thought hard about the question. When all the charts and numbers have been put away, that is going to be the main takeaway line that will be rebroadcast over and over. I suspect it will become rather infamous.

Barack Obama is going to give a speech today calling for us to "immediately begin to pull out troops engaged in combat operations at a pace of one or two brigades every month, to be completed by the end of next year."

Have some faith. The hearings are over, and now the political arguments begin again. There seems to have been a certain level of hysterical fear in recent weeks on the antiwar side about being "Ollie North-ed" by a charismatic charismatic officer in medals and ribbons. But it didn't happen. We won.

There can be no 'creating space for a political settlement' when the objective is victory, for which there is no substitute. We're in the third quarter, ahead on points (the story goes)--why negotiate a final score? Go for the gold--that's the American way.

But as Dan indicates, it ain't over 'til it's over, and Gates and Rice (to name two key players) have been as quiet as little mice. But that big, vulnerable cheese is sitting there, just asking for it. Bush deserves to be hit from as many directions as possible, in as many ways as possible, and Petraeus needs to be shown that he bet on the wrong horse (to mix a metaphor). [With the lights turned low, and a couple glasses of wine, I remembered what I metaphor.]

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