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Massachusetts Liberal

Observations on politics, the media and life in Massachusetts and beyond from the left side of the road.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Bizarro world

We've reached the point where the Washington press corps and the Bush administration considers the lack of bad news as good news. When success is measured in fewer people dying and when partisan gamesmanship trumps the will of the people.

The Washington Post's Peter Baker sums it up this way:

In many ways, the shifting political fortunes may owe as much to the absence of bad news as to any particular good news. No one lately has been indicted, botched a hurricane relief effort or shot someone in a hunting accident. Instead, pictures from Iraq show people returning to the streets as often as they show a new suicide bombing. And Bush has bolstered morale inside the West Wing and rallied his Republican base through a strategy of confrontation with the Democratic Congress, built on the expansive use of his veto pen.

A case in point appears to be the Iraqi surge. The New York Times notes today that number of weekly attacks are down to the lowest level since before the attack on the Shiite mosque that triggered some truly horrific bloodshed.

Even The New Yorker suggests the surge is working in this report from Iraq. Yes, if you count suicide bombings as opposed to individual efforts by one man out to kill 100 people -- 10 for each finger of a murdered relative's hands.

The Iraqi government, or lack thereof, is learning from its masters, preferring to pit political and religious enemies against each other rather than try to unify the country and take advantage of any "success" brought by the surge,

And then there is that shining triumph to Bush's democracy -- Pakistan. We've spent $10 billion to bolster an army general who seized power, twice, and yet claims to be in favor of elections and other democratic trappings. Sound almost like an election scenario that played out in Florida in 2000, minus the guns.

And of course, George Bush and his dead-enders have managed to tie up Congress, particularly the 50 votes to act Senate, in knots. And he's adopted a new posture as fiscally responsible (conveniently forgetting that $10 billion for Musharraf, among other things).

Maybe we are more observant than Baker, who also dutifully notes:
Yet none of this has particularly impressed the public at large, which remains skeptical that anything meaningful has changed and still gives Bush record-low approval ratings. The disconnect highlights his dilemma heading into the last year of his administration: Can anything short of a profound event repair an unpopular president's public standing so late in his tenure? Can tactical victories in Washington salvage a wounded presidency?
Reporters have a name for this sort of story, prepared for a slow news day like a Sunday or Monday -- a thumbsucker. Let's accent the second syllable here if you believe the lack of bad is good.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Guerilla warfare teaches us that the enemies choose the when and where. They know when to lay low and they know when to engage. So it is premature to say the surge is working. As for W, a legacy of fiscal conservatism is what he's after. It's all he has left. But that's still preferable to "President Cheney"...

November 19, 2007 8:26 PM  

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