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Washington Post in Bushland

The Washington Post keeps a foot in President Bush's special little fantasy land in today's editorial. It is blinded by the shadows of deception and distortion that characterize Bushland, but sees the outline of reality on the periphery.

The editorial begins on its Bushland foot, claiming that this week "Sen. John F. Kerry adopted, at last, a mostly coherent position on the war, one that describes Iraq as a 'profound diversion' from the fight against terrorism and 'a mess' that has made the United States less secure." For an actual analysis of the consistency of Kerry's positions, rather than a bland recitation of GOP spin, look to the San Francisco Chronicle. Seriously, is there any doubt that the Washington Post editorial board isn't fully aware of the consistency of Kerry's position? This abuse of editorial authority, probably included to appear "fair and balanced" is certainly neither objective nor professional.

Other misleading statements in the editorial:

Mr. Allawi spoke powerfully of what Iraqis have gained from the removal of Saddam Hussein, and we don't accept Mr. Kerry's assertion that America is "less secure and weaker in the war on terrorism" than it was when that murderous regime was still in power. In fact, we recall applauding when Mr. Kerry denounced Howard Dean for making the same claim.
I wish that I could just choose not to accept facts that upset me - maybe that's the ticket to Bushworld. On what basis does the Post believe that we are safer? Perhaps the editors should read the LATimes, or maybe get Richard Clarke's book out from under the wobbly table and actually crack it open.

In addition to being wrong on the facts, the Post mischaracterizes Kerry's statements on the capture of Hussein. I suggest the editors read Mr. Saletan's recent Slate piece. In a primary debate, Kerry said "Those who doubted whether Iraq or the world would be better off without Saddam Hussein, and those who believe we are not safer with his capture, don't have the judgment to be president or the credibility to be elected president." As Mr. Saletan points out, he is referring with some specificity to "the world" and "Iraq," not to the United States. He notes that "we" are safer with the "capture" of Hussein, not with the overall invasion. This does not contradict his recent statement that "we have traded a dictator for a chaos that has left America less secure," which is unfortunately now a truism.

Ah, but I have merely been sniping myself. The editorial does demonstrate a passing awareness that reality is crashing into Bushworld, and that his fantastic proclamations are becoming more and more detached from reality. The problem is that the editors are aware of this conflict yet choose to stay in Bush's fantasy land. Can any other conclusion be drawn from their continued embrace of his inept strategic vision?

In describing the Iraq invasion as an unnecessary "diversion," Mr. Kerry has narrowed his definition of the war to the fight against al Qaeda and its related networks, while playing down the related problems of state sponsorship.
The Post just doesn't understand. It's not just al Qaeda or its related networks, it's the ideological vision embraced and advanced by al Qaeda. The Post pretends that Kerry has eschewed Bush's grand democratic vision in favor of Bush's blinkered "deck of cards" strategy. Kerry has endorsed neither - he wants to fight the real enemy, the vicious ideological strain of radical Islam. From this fight, Iraq has been worse even than a "diversion" - it has been a strategic failure, resulting in the "emboldening" of our enemies [note: I am not implying that this was the intended result, and am not implying that Bush wants terrorists to win - that type of argument is the exclusive provenance of the GOP].

The Post claims to be "in the center," though its interpretation of the center reflects more the "no spin zone" of Fox News than a genuine effort to understand the impact and importance of Iraq. Washington DC is a beautiful, cosmopolitan city virtually overflowing with wonks and experts, people with a deep understanding of what's going on in the world. It's a shame that the editors of the region's flagship paper don't enjoy those luxuries more often.


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