EMAIL PAGE THREE
COLUMN ONE HUNDRED, DECEMBER 1, 2003
(Copyright © 2003 The Blacklisted Journalist)
BY MAUREEN DOWD
1. EYES WIDE SHUT
Subject: NYTimes.com Article: Eyes Wide Shut
Date: Thu, 30 Oct 2003 15:17:37 -0500 (EST)
October 30, 2003
Eyes Wide Shut
By MAUREEN DOWD
WASHINGTON " In the thick of the war with Iraq, President
Bush used to pop out of meetings to catch the Iraqi information minister
slipcovering grim reality with willful, idiotic optimism.
"He's my man," Mr. Bush laughingly told Tom
Brokaw about the entertaining contortions of Muhammad Said al-Sahhaf, a k a
"Comical Ali" and "Baghdad Bob," who assured reporters, even
as American tanks rumbled in, "There are no American infidels in Baghdad.
Never!" and, "We are winning this war, and we will win the war. . . .
This is for sure."
Now Crawford George has morphed into Baghdad Bob.
Speaking to reporters this week, Mr. Bush made the bizarre
argument that the worse things get in Iraq, the better news it is. "The
more successful we are on the ground, the more these killers will react,"
In the Panglossian Potomac, calamities happen for the best.
One could almost hear the doubletalk echo of that American officer in Vietnam
who said: "It was necessary to destroy the village in order to save
The war began with Bush illogic: false intelligence (from
Niger to nuclear) used to bolster a false casus belli (imminent threat to our
security) based on a quartet of false premises (that we could easily finish off
Saddam and the Baathists, scare the terrorists and democratize Iraq without
leeching our economy).
Now Bush illogic continues: The more Americans, Iraqis and
aid workers who get killed and wounded, the more it is a sign of American
progress. The more dangerous Iraq is, the safer the world is. The more troops we
seem to need in Iraq, the less we need to send more troops.
The harder it is to find Saddam, Osama and W.M.D., the less
they mattered anyhow. The more coordinated, intense and sophisticated the
attacks on our soldiers grow, the more "desperate" the enemy is.
In a briefing piped into the Pentagon on Monday from Tikrit,
Maj. Gen. Raymond Odierno called the insurgents "desperate" eight
times. But it is Bush officials who seem desperate when they curtain off
reality. They don't even understand the political utility of truth.
After admitting recently that Saddam had no connection to
9/11, the president pounded his finger on his lectern on Tuesday, while vowing
to stay in Iraq, and said, "We must never forget the lessons of Sept.
Mr. Bush looked buck-passy when he denied that the White
House, which throws up PowerPoint slogans behind his head on TV, was behind the
"Mission Accomplished" banner. And Donald Rumsfeld looked duplicitous
when he acknowledged in a private memo, after brusquely upbeat public briefings,
that America was in for a "long, hard slog" in Iraq and Afghanistan.
No juxtaposition is too absurd to stop Bush officials from
insisting nothing is wrong. Car bombs and a blitz of air-to-ground missiles
turned Iraq into a hideous tangle of ambulances, stretchers and dead bodies,
just after Paul Wolfowitz arrived there to showcase successes.
But the fear of young American soldiers who don't speak the
language or understand the culture, who don't know who's going to shoot at them,
was captured in a front-page picture in yesterday's Times: two soldiers leaning
down to search the pockets of one small Iraqi boy.
Mr. Bush, staring at the campaign hourglass, has ordered
that the "Iraqification" of security be speeded up, so Iraqi cannon
fodder can replace American sitting ducks. But Iraqification won't work any
better than Vietnamization unless the Bush crowd stops spinning.
Neil Sheehan, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of "A
Bright Shining Lie," recalls Robert McNamara making Wolfowitz-like trips to
Vietnam, spotlighting good news, yearning to pretend insecure areas were secure.
"McNamara was in a jeep in the Mekong Delta with an old Army colonel from Texas named Dan Porter," Mr. Sheehan told me. "Porter told him, `Mr. Secretary, we've got serious problems here that you're not getting. You ought to know what they are.'
And McNamara replied: `I don't want to hear about your
problems. I want to hear about your progress.' "
"If you want to be hoodwinked," Mr. Sheehan
concludes, "it's easy."
Copyright 2003 The New York Times Company ##
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2. DEATH BE NOT LOUD
Subject: NYTimes.com Article: Death Be Not
Date: Thu, 06 Nov 2003 15:17:37 -0500 (EST)
November 6, 2003
Death Be Not Loud
By MAUREEN DOWD
Who can blame poor President Bush? Look at his terrible
There are those who say the chief executive should have
come out of his Texas ranch house and articulated and assuaged the sorrow and
outrage and anxiety the nation was feeling on Sunday after the deadliest day in
Iraq in seven months. An attack on a Chinook helicopter had killed 15 American
soldiers, 13 men and 2 women, and wounded 21.
There are those who say Mr. Bush should have emulated Rudy
Giuliani's empathetic leadership after 9/11, or Dad's in the first gulf war, and
attended some of the funerals of the 379 Americans killed in Iraq. Or one. Maybe
the one for Specialist Darryl Dent, the 21-year-old National Guard officer from
Washington who died outside Baghdad in late August when a bomb struck his truck
while he was delivering mail to troops. His funeral was held at a Baptist church
three miles from the White House.
But let's look at it from the president's point of view: if
he grieves more publicly or concretely, if he addresses every instance of bad
news, like the hideous specter of Iraqis' celebrating the downing of the
Chinook, he will simply remind people of what's going on in Iraq.
So it's understandable why, going into his re-election
campaign, Mr. Bush wouldn't want to underscore that young Americans keep getting
whacked over there, and we don't know who is doing it or how to stop it.
The White House is cleverly trying to distance Mr. Bush
from the messy problem of flesh-and-blood soldiers with real names dying nearly
every day, while linking him to the heroic task of fighting global terror.
It's better to keep it vague, to talk about the
"important cause" and the "brave defenders" of liberty.
If he gets more explicit, or allows the flag-draped coffins
of fallen heroes to be photographed coming home, it will just remind people that
the administration said this would be easy, and it's teeth-grindingly hard. And
that the administration vowed to get Osama and Saddam and W.M.D., and hasn't.
And that the Bush team that hyped the presence of Al Qaeda in Iraq has now
created an Al Qaeda presence in Iraq. And that there was no decent plan for the
occupation or for financing one, no plan for rotating or supporting troops
stretched too thin to guard ammunition caches or police a fractious society, and
no plan for getting out.
As the White House points out, Mr. Bush cannot fairly pick
and choose which memorial services to go to, or which deaths to speak of.
"If a helicopter were hit an hour later, after he came
out and spoke, should he come out again?" Dan Bartlett, the White House
communications director, told The Times's Elisabeth Bumiller, explaining Mr.
Bush's silence after the Chinook crash. The public, he added, "wants the
commander in chief to have proper perspective, and keep his eye on the big
picture and the ball."
The ball for fall is fund-raising. President Bush has been
going full throttle since summer, spending several days a week flying around the
country, hitting up rich Republicans for $2,000 checks. He has raised $90
million so far out of the $175 million he plans to spend on a primary campaign
in which he has no opponent.
At fund-raisers, Mr. Bush prefers to talk about the uptick
in the economy, not the downtick in Iraq. On Monday, arriving for a fund-raiser
in Birmingham, he was upbeat, not somber. As Mike Allen of The Washington Post
reported in his pool report, "The president, who gave his usual salute as
he stepped off Marine One, appeared to start the day in a fabulous mood. . . .
An Alabama reporter who was under the wing shouted, `How long will U.S. troops
be in Iraq?' The president gave him an unappreciative look."
Raising $1.8 million at lunch, he stuck to the line that
"we are aggressively striking the terrorists in Iraq, defeating them there
so we will not have to face them in our own country." He didn't want to
depress the donors by mentioning the big news story, the loss of 15 American
soldiers, or sour the mood by conceding the obvious, that the swelling horde of
terrorists fighting us there will not prevent terrorists from coming after us
here. Maybe we should all be like President Bush and not read the papers so we
don't get worn down either.
Perhaps the solution to Mr. Bush's quandary is to
coordinate his schedule so he can go to cities where he can attend both
fund-raisers and funerals.
The law of averages suggests it shouldn't be hard.
Copyright 2003 The New York Times Company ##
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