Commentary Magazine


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Not Even Trying

Abe has pointed to one technique of the spin-factory at New York Times. But Sunday’s front story page is a doozy. It is about a potential early reduction in forces in Iraq. Well, this sounds promising. There is some discussion about the need for more forces in Afghanistan. There is this:

But the political benefit might go more to Mr. McCain than Mr. Obama. Mr. McCain is an avid supporter of the current strategy in Iraq. Any reduction would indicate that that strategy has worked and could defuse antiwar sentiment among voters.

But wait. What is missing? It is not just that a reduction would “indicate” that the surge has worked; it has worked. You see more is at work than just a clever trick by the McCain team to “defuse antiwar sentiment.” The Times does quote Secretary of Defense Robert Gates to the effect that “[a]s the Iraqi security forces get stronger and get better, then we will be able to continue drawing down our troops in the future.” But how exactly did we reach that point? It seems a mystery to the Times. Could it be that the Bush strategy worked?

Even more curious: the Times states that McCain is an “avid supporter” of the current strategy, but is silent on Obama’s opposition. You could read the entire story without seeing any mention that Obama opposed the surge, has still refused to recognize its benefits (well, that would mean the Times would have to connect the dots too, I suppose) or that the draw-down in forces is precisely what the Bush administration’s policy aimed to achieve.

It was almost as if the reporter was given a near-impossible assignment: write a story on potential troop reductions in Iraq, but don’t credit McCain or the Bush administration and don’t let on that Obama opposed it all along. Well, wouldn’t you know–he pulled it off!