July 21, 2007

The Preemptive Trashing of Petraeus

Because they are petrified that the September report from Gen. Petraeus might contain positive news, or a shred of hope for a free Iraq, and screw up the narrative of defeat and presidential humiliation that serves their political interests, the campaign is now on by the political left to discredit Petraeus in advance of the report as a GOP "tool". After all, he did agree to be interviewed by Hugh Hewitt. Hugh's summary of the ongoing smear job on Petraeus by liberal pundits and bloggers begins like this:

The decline of the leftwing netroots into one great, venomous snarl is far advanced, well-known, and much remarked upon by political observers from across the spectrum. But even given its deserved reputation for poisonous invective, the assault mounted against General David Petraeus surprises. General Petraeus made the unforgivable mistake in their eyes of appearing on my radio program and answering questions.... Both because he agreed to be interviewed by a journalist favorable to victory and supportive of President Bush and because his answers suggest progress is being made in Iraq, Petraeus has been savaged by leftist bloggers big and little.

Andrew Sullivan promptly pronounced that "a decision to cater to one party's propaganda outlet renders Petraeus' military independence moot." Don't expect the truth come September, according to Sullivan.

As with the Democrats' sniffy boycott of any debate to be conducted on the evil Fox Network, this is a common ploy of lefties who need to avoid the arguments or uncomfortable questions that would otherwise confront them, so they simply declare any media outlet that permits the expression of conservative views to be beyond the pale of reasonable discourse. Handy.

So where was Gen. Petraeus to go? There doesn't appear to have been much of a clamor from other media organs to communicate the General's perspectives on the progress of the war to the American people. Dean Barrett interviewing Mark Steyn on Hugh's show yesterday produced some quotable moments from both men on these issues, including the left's total lack of interest in the actual realities of the war:

DB: ...one of the things General Petraeus was saying yesterday is that he wants to do as much media as possible.

MS: Yeah.

DB: And I haven’t heard any left wing media outlet, let’s say Keith Olbermann, or someone of that ilk, say I tried to get Petraeus, but I couldn’t.

MS: No, and in fact, they’re very uninterested in hearing about specific military operations, how they’re going, how well they’re going, what the mood of the troops is, and what the strategic thinking at the Pentagon is, because in effect, they’ve decided their position on Iraq, and it’s impervious to anything that’s happening on the ground. So in that sense, that’s the reason General Petraeus may sit around waiting for invitations from certain shows, and he’s just not going to get them.

DB: Now Mark, Mark Steyn, don’t you find it interesting that two months before General Petraeus reports, they’ve apparently already turned on him, and already sought to discredit whatever he might say?

MS: Yes, and I think this is a real danger, in effect, that they’re saying, they’re trying to make it appear as if he is a partisan figure. And he is, in the sense that he supports the mission, and he wouldn’t be directing the mission if he did not support it. But the idea that therefore he’s some kind of political hack, I think is absurd. And I think this is also, again, the Washington perspective on this. You know, this is, if you’re in Iraq, this is a war that you have to fight as you see fit. And to put it in this Beltway perspective, in terms of how, which particular radio show you go on, or TV show, or how it’s going to play here or there, that’s not how he thinks about it. He’s got huge numbers of American servicemen and women under his command out there in Iraq, and the idea that simply because of, that this was is somehow a postmodern war that’s only being fought in the TV and radio studios of America, I think is the sign of just how the left has sort of flown the coop, that in effect, the spin, its own spin has become the reality, and real reality can’t impinge on it.

DB: Now Mark Steyn, what do you think of the narrative that we often see come forward, that the troops are the children, and we must save our children and bring them home. How does that strike you?

MS: Well, I think it’s immensely insulting. For a start, they’re actually a lot more mature than the left wing commentators shrieking about the children. I was behind a car with a bumper sticker the other day, and the bumper sticker said honor the dead, heal the wounded, end the war.

DB: Ugh.

MS: You don’t honor the dead by basically making their death a worthless sacrifice, you don’t heal the wounded by saying this is yet another war that America lost because of the emotional mawkish exhibitionism of a lot of self-indulgent and desiccated twits back on the home front. This is not how soldiers think. They’re not children. They’re grown men, they’re doing a more grown up job than most of the people bleating back at home. And they deserve real support, not this kind of misplaced nursery teacher coddling that looks cute on a bumper sticker, but it utterly meaningless.

More reaction to the Hewitt interview in a separate HH post.

The commentators objecting to the general being interviewed by an avowed Republican who is also a journalist no doubt don't object to Tim Russert, George Stephanopoulos and Chris Matthews running talk shows depsite their past partisan attachments. This amusing double standard says nothing about the ability of those Dems who are also journalists to conduct interviews, but volumes about the gullibility of the anti-intellectuals who want General Petraeus only to speak to the MSM and thus through the filter of MSM. That's an absurd straight-jacket which the neither the military nor any other institution in America ought to put on. The day will never come when the left forces all of America only to talk to its approved outlets, but you learn a lot about people when they start calling for gag rules and censorship. You learn all you need to know about Andrew Sullivan, for example, who premptively denounces General Petraeus as a liar for the content of his not-yet-composed much-less-delivered September report.

The tactics are working. So much noise was made following the interview that all the talk (including here) is about the noise, and not about the interview. So...one more time...Hugh Hewitt interviews Gen. Petraeus.

Posted by dan at July 21, 2007 12:01 AM