Cheat-Seeking Missles

Monday, January 15, 2007

Who's Best At Not Carrying Bush's Water?

The big quote of the weekend -- “If as a reporter you do ask the national security question, all of a sudden you’re carrying Bush’s water,” from Pamela Hess of UPI -- wasn't out long before reporters lined up to prove just how right she was.

The worst of the bunch? Tough to tell, but I'd give it to Mark Seibel of McClatchy (formerly Knight Ridder) for this lead from Hell:
President Bush and his aides, explaining their reasons for sending more American troops to Iraq, are offering an incomplete, oversimplified and possibly untrue version of events there that raises new questions about the accuracy of the administration's statements about Iraq.
That's a fine bit of assertively carrying not even one molecule of Bush water, and it's followed by 34 paragraphs of Seibel's view of history, laden with endless dates and mind-numbing names, all concluding with a quote from last week's Dem inquisition of Condi Rice:
"Madam Secretary," said Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., "I have supported you and the administration on the war, and I cannot continue to support the administration's position. I have not been told the truth over and over again by administration witnesses, and the American people have not been told the truth."
And why does Seibel feel justified in calling the Administration's position "incomplete, oversimplified and possibly untrue?" Because, he grandly points out, the 2006 explosives attack on the Golden Mosque of Samarra referred to by Bush in the speech was not really the start of the insurgency. Well, thank you very much Mr. Seibel. If it weren't for your clear view of history, I know that I for one would be muddling along with a totally incorrect view of the war on terror.

Let's suppose that Seibel had a glory-day and the President read this and said, "By golly he's right, let's use his stuff instead of my speechwriters' stuff next time." The result would be howls that the speech was horrible and did nothing to clarify or support the war effort.

That's because speeches are not university lectures. The good ones seize on several real life examples -- like the Golden Mosque -- and use them to underscore, color and prove up the thesis. This is what Bush did.

His point was not to answer every question and track the convoluted history of every violent wing of each Iraqi faction, and every proposal that bubbled up for dealing with it. Rather, his point was to say that 2006 showed a sharp increase in violence that indicated that our policies were not working, to lay out in broad strokes the new policy, and to garner support for it.

Roosevelt didn't track the rise of Japanese imperialism and the US response to it in his "Day of Infamy" speech. Lincoln didn't digress on the economic and cultural underpinnings of the Civil War at Gettysburg. Mark Seibel wasn't their speechwriter, and fortunately, he's not Bush's either.

Hat-tip: Memeorandum
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