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November 28, 2003
Dana Milbank Spouts Off Again

Dana Milbank, whose reporting leaves no doubt about his feelings for the Bush administration, attempts an in-depth analysis and only manages to state that Bush is "indelibly" tied to results in Iraq -- as if that's breaking news:

Iraqis may be reassured that the United States will put down the insurgency and restore order in their country. Or they may take the image of Bush landing unannounced at night without lights and not venturing from a heavily fortified military installation as confirmation that the security situation in Iraq is dire indeed.

But one thing is certain. Bush's Thanksgiving Day surprise ties him, for better or worse, ever more tightly to the outcome of the Iraq struggle.

Well, excuse me for stating the obvious, but duh. "Insurgents" -- otherwise known as unreconstructed Ba'athists who would like nothing better than to re-install Saddamism/Stalinism -- have access to SAMs and explosives and relatively cheap cars that can be used as low-speed guided missiles. No one knows that better than the Iraqis, for Pete's sake. I suspect they are a lot more aware of their security situation than would be a pampered reporter typing out his "analysis" from the safety of his mid-Atlantic home office. I suspect that they are a lot more aware of their world now that they have over 150 newspapers free to print whatever they like, rather than Saddam's Minister of Information -- Comical Ali -- telling them that the camo-wearing groups of people arriving in armored vehicles through the middle of Baghdad didn't exist, and if you help these imaginary folk, the Fedayeen will kill you.

And if you don't already know that Bush's presidency is absolutely tied to the war on terror, and specifically to success in this radical intervention in Iraq, then reading Dana Milbank won't cure you from your obtuseness.

There is nothing novel about presidential visits to war zones at holiday time. Bill Clinton went to Kosovo for Thanksgiving in 1999, Lyndon B. Johnson went to Vietnam for Christmas in 1967, and President-elect Dwight D. Eisenhower visited Korean battle fronts in 1952. Richard M. Nixon also traveled to Vietnam, in 1969.

Ho ho ho ... oh, wait, he's serious. Nixon, Johnson, and Eisenhower visited the troops when the zones were hot, just as Bush did yesterday. Kosovo was hardly a hot zone in November 1999. This is an attempt to de-emphasize Bush's surprise visit to the troops. Don't get me wrong; Clinton did the right thing in 1999 by spending his Thanksgiving with the troops, and I'll assume that he would have made the trip if it was still a hot zone, like Baghdad is today. It's just that the two visits are hardly equal in terms of impact or security.

In contrast to Bush's carrier landing, which they immediately branded a stunt, Bush's critics yesterday did not begrudge him the trip to Iraq, nor the necessary secrecy, nor even the disinformation the White House used to lead people to believe he would be at home on his ranch in Texas all day.

This is pretty disingenuous, as critics spent most of the day yesterday begrudging him all of these things; they just didn't have the guts to go on the record. For instance, MS-NBC manages to get this into their story:

Upon hearing of the visit, Iraqis looked on with befuddlement and bemusement, saying they knew it was meant for U.S. troops but hoping he gained some insight into the country during his brief stay. ... Defending his decision to make the trip and the deception surrounding it [emphasis mine], Bush said: “I think the American people appreciate me going to express my sympathies to these kids.["]

In addition, while I was watching the news of the event on CNN, there was a good deal of discussion as to whether the administration had acted ethically in deceiving the White House press corps about the president's itinerary for Thanksgiving, as if he had decided to eat at his in-laws instead of at his ranch. Talk about missing the entire point! Also, if you want to see more carping about the Thanksgiving visit, feel free to lose 30 points off your IQ by visiting Democratic Underground, where they are inventing all sorts of weird motives and conspiracies, but in all fairness, they are hardly representative of mainstream opposition.

You can read the rest of Milbank's "analysis", but it contains little in the way of analytical thought. It's just a rehash of wire service quotes from yesterday and today. Why does the Post continue to allow Milbank to cover this presidency, anyway? If this trite and hackneyed piece is the best he can do, he should be reassigned to movie reviews and let someone else who understands the news cover it.

UPDATE: Power Line gives this a brief mention, but also links to a straightforward story at the Washington Times.

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at November 28, 2003 10:42 AM

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