On the heels of the New York Times’ wink to the rest of the mainstream media and left blogosphere that it is okay to spill the beans (Psst: Iraq is better — really better), the networks news shows have gotten into the act too. ABC had on Brookings’ Michael O’Hanlon, who actually went to Iraq and can report that things are substantially different. The ABC story is a concise and rather helpful summary of the indications of political, military and even economic progress.
It is almost like reading some of the conservative media, which has been laboring to explain this very story. In fact, there’s a presidential candidate who’s been fighting a lonely fight on this for quite awhile long before any of the mainstream media dreamed that his view would be proven correct.
David Brooks, who reminds us of how the surge was derided as a dangerous and crazy plan by Congressional Democrats and in “op-ed pages and seminar rooms,” writes:
The cocksure war supporters learned this humbling lesson during the dark days of 2006. And now the cocksure surge opponents, drunk on their own vindication, will get to enjoy their season of humility. They have already gone through the stages of intellectual denial. First, they simply disbelieved that the surge and the Petraeus strategy was doing any good. Then they accused people who noticed progress in Iraq of duplicity and derangement. Then they acknowledged military, but not political, progress. Lately they have skipped over to the argument that Iraq is progressing so well that the U.S. forces can quickly come home. But before long, the more honest among the surge opponents will concede that Bush, that supposed dolt, actually got one right. Some brave souls might even concede that if the U.S. had withdrawn in the depths of the chaos, the world would be in worse shape today.
It is difficult enough for the mainstream media to reverse its entire take on Iraq, so I don’t expect them to be handing out garlands to either President Bush or John McCain. As for McCain, it’s up to his campaign to explain this in presidential political terms. An adept campaign might be rallying the conservative base by pointing out McCain’s battle against liberal media’s conventional wisdom, reaching out to independents with some newer and fresher material detailing Obama step-by-step objections to the surge and using McCain’s performance in championing the surge as a point of contrast to other politicians who talk a good game but do only what is politically expedient.
It is not clear, however, that the McCain camp has yet figured out how to do any of these things or to capitalize on this remarkable turn of events.