Commentary Magazine


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Coming In at No. 1

Keith Olbermann, the bloviating sportscaster turned bloviating chat show host (or is that redundant?), paid me a signal honor by making me the No. 1 story last night on his list of the “headlines breaking in the administration’s 50 running scandals.” What did I do to deserve this honor? I’ll let Keith explain:

And number one: We got ya, coming and going-gate. Max Boot, senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, one of administration’s consulting dumb asses who got us into the quagmire of Iraq, and is now pushing hard for a twin disaster in Iran. In an online debate yesterday, he insisted that the surge has worked because, quoting, “civilian deaths were down more than 80 percent, U.S. deaths down more than 60 percent between December of 2006 and March of 2008.”

But it appears he wrote for Rupert Murdoch’s “Wall Street Journal” on Monday, in that, Max Boot claimed that in the huge jump in American fatalities last month, 54, the most lost since last August. It, quote, “could be a sign that tough combat is under way that will lead to the enemy’s defeat and the creation of a more peaceful environment in the future. Unfortunate as the latest deaths are, they are in all likelihood, a sign of things getting worse before they get better.”

And there it is in all its beautiful elliptical, symmetrical, asinine Bushian glory. If fewer Americans die in Iraq, that’s because the surge is working. If more Americans die in Iraq, that’s also because the surge is working. And if the surge is working the troops have to stay longer to solidify its gains, and if the surge isn’t working, the troops have to stay longer to make sure it starts working.

And the point of the war in Iraq is to make sure there is a war in Iraq.

Aside from some invective uniquely his own, Olbermann’s attack was lifted almost word for word from a posting on Think Progress, the website of the Center for American Progress, a left-wing attack machine masquerading as a think tank.

I realize that both Olbermann and the Think Progress bloggers are interested in scoring points regardless of the facts. But I’m still having trouble grasping the supposed contradiction between saying that things are getting better because the long-term trend has been a reduction in casualties, while admitting that things are temporarily worse because of a short-term spike in casualties.

In my piece I went on to point out that sometimes an increase in casualties precedes a military victory. That’s what happened last year, when Olbermann and the Center for American Progress were writing off the surge as a failure before it had begun. You would think they might have learned something from that experience. But I guess not. I could think of a two-word term to describe their mindset (the first word starts with a “d,” the second with an “a”) but, hey, I don’t want to stoop to their level.