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Conservative Talkers in the Presidential Echo Chamber

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Critics on the left are constantly complaining that right-leaning radio talkers are getting their daily programming straight from the talking points of the Republican Party. This is one of the main reasons why they’re so eager to implement the ‘Fairness Doctrine’ and either silence talk radio or force an artificial balance on broadcast content so that their message gets equal time. Their argument is that every word that Rush Limbaugh or Bill O’Reilly utters is essentially a free political commercial for the GOP, their policies and their candidates.

How much more troubled they must be by this week’s developments in talk radio, as the President extended invitations to the top talk radio personalities to come to the White House for a personal conference in the Oval Office to get the administration’s views on the War on Terror, Iraq and related issues, direct from the horse’s mouth. This can’t look like anything but loyal media drones coming in to receive their orders from the queen bee.

Ten of the top talk radio hosts came to the White House Wednesday morning to meet with President Bush for an hour, during which time they had the opportunity to ask any questions they liked on the stated topic, and get his best answers. The only catch was that no recording and no direct quotes would be allowed, but they could paraphrase and describe and give their interpretations of the President’s comments freely.

Only a little bit of what went on in the meeting has been revealed thus far, because most of the hosts involved were off the air today so they could attend the meeting. Only a couple of west coast based hosts had shows late enough to discuss it, but it should drive discussion on talk radio tomorrow. From what I’ve been able to piece together the participants included Michael Medved, Mark Levin, Laura Ingraham, Neal Boortz, Lars Larson, Bill Bennett and Dennis Prager (the ones with links have either audio or articles about the meeting). These weren’t necessarily Bush’s most loyal allies in the media. Boortz and Larson have both been loudly critical of both administration policies and performance. The one thing they all have in common is that they are generally convinced that the War on Terror is one we have to fight and that Islamic fundamentalism is a very real threat.

Not surprisingly, attendees commented that Bush in person was much more impressive than he is at scripted public appearances. The malapropisms and robotic speaking were replaced with energy, enthusiasm, a quick wit and a clear command of the subject matter. Mark Levin is an annoying, egotistical blowhard and his show for today didn’t give much insight into the meeting, but if you listen to the audio from Lars Larson’s site you get a pretty good idea what went on and what was discussed.

The focus seems to have been on countering the misdirection campaign of Congressional Democrats who are playing up problems in Pakistan and Saudi Arabia and Iran for the media, while trying to take legislative measures against the Bush foreign policy relatively quietly. Bush wants to put the focus back on fighting terrorism and solving the problems in Iraq, as well as laying out some of the positive high points of recent efforts there before releasing this fall’s progress report to Congress.

The timing of this meeting seems ideal, coming two days after the surprising report in the New York Times from Brookings Institute analystis Michael O’Hanlon and Kenneth Pollack, two outspoken left-wing critics of the war, who reluctantly admit that after an extended visit to Iraq they see some light at the end of the tunnel and that progress actually seems to be happening in Iraq. A positive message on Iraq from one of the most respected think tanks on the left is a huge win for Bush, and if the media isn’t going to play it up the way he wants, getting talk radio to carry the ball for him makes a lot of sense.

Meetings like this certainly raise a lot of questions. Is this kind of meeting inappropriate? Is it just a higher-level way of distributing talking points to media loyalists? Bush has meetings with allies in Congress to discuss issues. He calls in leaders in various businesses for input relevant to their industries. Are those meetings appropriate? Is this any different?

Bush is hardly the first or the only president to seek input or to seek to directly communicate his message to influential figures. Clinton even had meetings with prominent bloggers. This also isn’t Bush’s first meeting of this sort. A similar one was held last summer with a slightly different cast of characters and the outrage on the left-leaning blogosphere was palpable. Michael Medved is clearly concerned about the appearance of impropriety because the first thing he did on returning home was to post a defense of his attendance on his blog.

Obviously, Bush wants his side of the story of the War on Terror and in Iraq to get better exposure. Since the mainstream media seems uninterested in covering the story as he wants it told, he’s decided to look for exposure for his message elsewhere. But is he just preaching to the choir here? Aren’t these radio talkers already going to promote his viewpoint or something like it anyway? Might he not be better served by calling in more moderate media figures and attempting to convince them or at least give them a fair chance to ask a few questions?

We’ll start to hear more reaction to this in the next couple of days. It will be interesting to see which has more impact, the conservative talkers promoting the idea of progress in Iraq, or their leftist counterparts decrying the inappropriateness of turning the radio airwaves into a presidential echo chamber.

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About Dave Nalle

  • http://www.parttimepundit.com John Bambenek

    Come on, Dave. You know these guys aren’t all drones. Bush has been in private meetings with several reporters before. Just because he says something and lets people ask questions doesn’t meant there is indoctrination going on.

    If all they got is some talk radio guys in a room asking the President questions, they’ve got nothing. Journalists, even far-left foaming at the mouth liberals, would jump at this chance. It doesn’t mean they’re all the sudden drinking the Kool-aid.

  • http://www.robot-of-the-week.com Christopher Rose

    “Conservaitve Talkers in the Presidential Echo Chamber” ? Uncharacteristic typo by Mr Nalle compounded by the editor, our over-excited colleague Mr Bambenek, who is making lots of little mistakes today. Could you two take a deep breath? Or get a room? LOL!

    Fixed by politically non-aligned and ever vigilant floating editor!

  • http://musical-guru.blogspot.com/ Michael J. West

    A positive message on Iraq from one of the most respected think tanks on the left is a huge win for Bush

    Well….in general terms, yes. That is, the notion of a positive message on Iraq from the Brookings Institution is a big win for Bush. The actual message itself is a rather minor victory, at least in the sense that it essentially says, “things are getting better in Iraq, no thanks to President Bush.”

  • http://lowether.blogspot.com Sam Jack

    Uh, “Two outspoken leftwing critics of the war”? That’s simply false. Maybe they’re left wing, but they’ve never been war critics. Glenn Greenwald does what apparently no one else bothered to do and looked up all their writings about Iraq on LexisNexis. A sample:

    “The war could be over within a month.”

    “Vice President Dick Cheney had a nice rebuttal to the retired officers when he understandably, and humorously, took a moment to gloat shortly after Baghdad fell.”

  • http://www.elitebloggers.com Dave Nalle

    Michael, if things go better in Iraq, it looks good for Bush no matter what the immediate reasons are.

    Sam Jack, Greenwald grossly misrepresents the two writers record on the Iraq War. The fact that at the start of the war they – like just about everyone else – hoped it would be a success, doesn’t negate the fact that they’ve been critical of the war most of the time since then. Take a look at the body of O’Hanlon’s past articles with particular attention to 2005 to see some pretty strong criticism of the administration and endorsement for a full withdrawal.

    These guys can really only be categorized as critical of Bush policy. Apparently the problem is that they’re not full-on surrender monkeys who put “Bush is HItler” in every third sentence in their articles. They’re extremely well qualified mideast analysts who have literally been looking everywhere for solutions to the problem of Iraq and haven’t until very recently seen much hope in the Bush approach. What more do you want?

    Dave

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer.php?name=gonzo%20marx gonzo marx

    “no recordings or direct quotes”

    that shows you right there what kind of meeting it was…it all was on the up and up, there would be a press conference, eh?

    anytime you get something that’s “not on the record”, little alarm bells should go off

    could just be me

    Excelsior?

  • Nancy

    I believe the quote is, “distrust anyone who wraps themselves in religion, patriotism, or fearmongering.”

    Another indicator what kind of scum they are: Karl Rove. Nuff said.

  • http://www.elitebloggers.com Dave Nalle

    Gonzo, it wasn’t off the record. They were allowed to repeat anything they were told. No secrets, no deception. Bush just didn’t want to be quoted out of context or to be vulnerable to having a misstatement repeated. Since when did an informal discussion become a conspiracy?

    Dave

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer.php?name=gonzo%20marx gonzo marx

    no recordings, no direct quotes

    meaning no complete record of context, no complete record of the entire meeting from start to finish, and no direct quotes to be held accountable for

    a hypothetical…”ok folks, here’s how we are going to work together to get our agenda out there in a wall of noise…
    {insert talking points}
    make sure 1-3 go monday through wed…then 4-6..ok
    we’re really gonna fuck them over this time…
    now, anybody want some dead puppy salad for lunch?

    or it could be completely and totally innocent..more likely something in between

    we’ll never know, eh?

    no record, no quotes = secret, imo

    Excelsior?

  • http://musical-guru.blogspot.com/ Michael J. West

    Gonzo, it wasn’t off the record. They were allowed to repeat anything they were told. No secrets, no deception.

    That’s not what Boortz says:

    “We could discuss our impressions of the visit. We can reveal the matters that were discussed. But we are not allowed to quote the president. There were also elements to the conversation that we’ve been asked not to repeat.”

  • http://www.elitebloggers.com Dave Nalle

    Boortz hadn’t done his show yet or the small writeup you linked to when I wrote the article, and of all the people there he’s the only one I’d trust 100%. A few comments being ‘off the record’ isn’t the same as it being a session where they were being given secret conspiratorial marching orders as gonzo suggests.

    I’m going to try to listen to Boortz today and get the full story.

    Dave

  • http://wahaudi.blogspot.com Rhampton

    Anyone who doubts the catastrophic influence of Saudi-funded Wahhabism simply hasn’t been paying attention. From Nigeria to Serbia to China to America, the Kingdom spends billions annually to subvert traditionally tolerant and respectful sects of Islam with a radicalized puritan version of Sunni fundamentalism.

    I track the Saudi funded expansion of militant, extremist Wahhabi (Salafi) Islam at my blog, Wahaudi.

  • Alec

    Dave – RE: It will be interesting to see which has more impact, the conservative talkers promoting the idea of progress in Iraq, or their leftist counterparts decrying the inappropriateness of turning the radio airwaves into a presidential echo chamber.

    What an odd, and obviously false dichotomy. Conservative pundits and bloggers claim to be more tough minded, objective and “fair and balanced” than their supposed opponents in the “biased liberal mainstream media.”

    But if they are eager to serve as bootlickers for the Bush Administration, then their dishonesty goes beyond any remedy that might be provided by an ill-advised return of the Fairness Doctrine.

    An ethical commentator is encouraged to disclose the fact that he or she has been paid by a company or a political party when he is championing their position. Shouldn’t a pundit, talk radio host or blogger — without regard to his or her political affiliation — disclose to the audience that he or she is operating as an unpaid propagandist for a political party or group?

    By the way, it is simply not true that these people are not necessarily Bush’s most loyal allies. One of the attendees, Hugh Hewitt bends over backwards to praise and defend almost everything that Bush does (he was one of the biggest supporters of the wonderfulness of Harriet Miers’ nomination to be a Supreme Court Justice) and has gone so far as to suggest that the Republican Party is the sole legitimate political party in America. Michael Medved’s crocodile tears cannot hide the fact that he long ago sold out any integrity that he had in order to whore himself out to the Bush Administration (though what he hopes to gain from this is unclear). Medved could not be concerned about the appearance of impropriety because he has done this before. I recall a front page photo in the New York Times several months ago of Medved and other talk radio hosts speaking personally with the president.

    That Clinton or other presidents did the same thing before is not an excuse, especially from those who generally disapprove of everything that Clinton did in the past and might do in the future. I recall a moment when I ceased to pay any attention to one of the TV pundit shows during the Clinton presidency: one of the female guests was obviously and clumsily rehearsing information “leaked” to her from Hillary Clinton’s chief of staff. Some of the sentences that she used were verbatim from a script that formed the basis for a later news story crediting unnamed sources in the White House. But the pundit had been passing this crap off as her own analysis of whatever policy issue was being discussed.

    If these conservative pundits see themselves as champions of the Bush — or any other administration, then they certainly have no business claiming that any other branch of the media is biased. Nor should they claim that their conversations with their listeners represent their own views or thoughts if they are not willing to disclose the degree to which what they say has been shaped by the White House.

    RE: it wasn’t off the record. They were allowed to repeat anything they were told. No secrets, no deception.

    That’s funny. Hugh Hewitt’s blog notes the following:

    President Bush invited ten talk hosts into the Oval Office for an hour of conversation today –Glenn Beck, Bill Bennett, Neal Boortz, Scott Hennon, Laura Ingraham, Lars Larson, Mark Levin, Michael Medved, Janet Parshall and me. This was an off-the-record conversation, and so I won’t be quoting the president.

    You can check Hewitt’s statement for yourself.

    I bet that if these clowns were ever asked to justify themselves, they would claim that they were covered by executive privilege.

    Again, while there is nothing illegal about this, it is ethically despicable. And just for the record, note that I would feel the same way if these people were moderates or liberals. I don’t care about ideology. I do care about independence. I detest anyone who acts as the surrogate or advocate for any politician or party, when that person claims that he or she is representing objectivity, truth or is “looking out for me.”

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer.php?name=gonzo%20marx gonzo marx

    Boortz sez – “There were also elements to the conversation that we’ve been asked not to repeat.”

    that right there is more than enough to toss suspicion on it all…no record, and stuff they were told not to repeat

    even if it’s 100% harmless…and especially in light of this Administration’s track record on all things “executive priviledge” and secrecy…any objective observer is forced to harbor some suspicions…

    your mileage may vary

    Excelsior?

  • http://www.elitebloggers.com Dave Nalle

    Ok, I just finished listening to Boortz on the WSB feed, and to clarify exactly what he meant, it seems that Bush revealed some operational details which are not yet cleared for the public and asked that they be held in confidence until he could get approval from the Pentagon for the talkers to discuss them on the air.

    That seems perfectly reasonable to me. In fact, it seems appropriately responsible.

    As for what was discussed, Boortz stressed a couple of things. He pointed out as he has before, that when you talk to him one-on-one Bush is far from the dummy the left makes him out to be. He said that a number of the guests asked Bush pointed questions, made suggestions on better ways to fight the war in Iraq, and openly ctiticized policy, including someone he didn’t identify telling the president he was dead wrong. So it sounds like it wasn’t exactly an echo chamber. He also said that Bush listened and promised to take their suggestions seriously. Finally, Bush said that the main thrust of the meeting was to present them with what he seemed to think was pretty convincing evidence that Petraeus was having substantial success in winning over insurgent groups, making allies and suppressing al Qaeda and insurgent operations.

    BTW, Boortz apparently asked Bush specifically about the NYT op-ed piece referenced in my article and Bush went into more detail on some of the things mentioned in that article. Boortz also made the observation on his show that the article is likely to drive the left into an absolute frenzy, and the evidence that it has is already overwhelming, at least on the blogosphere. The outrage over that op-ed on Salon, DailyKos, Democratic Underground and elsewhere is really something to see. It’s amusing to see people who used to greet everything from Brookings as gospel suddenly trying to figure out how to paint O’Hanlon and Pollock as neocons in drag.

    Dave

  • http://www.elitebloggers.com Dave Nalle

    it is simply not true that these people are not necessarily Bush’s most loyal allies

    I didn’t say they were all not total Bushies, just that as a group they were not uniformly loyal. I specifically cited Boortz and Larson as having previously been highly critical of the administration on a number of subjects. To suggest otherwise would be for you to admit that you’re not familiar enough with talk radio to know who the players are and what they do with their airtime to comment on this subject intelligently.

    Dave

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer.php?name=gonzo%20marx gonzo marx

    @ #15 – objection, your Honor…

    pure hearsay…there’s NO record, and no way to show, one way or another the accuracy or veracity of said statements

    and therein lies the rub…

    Excelsior?

  • http://www.elitebloggers.com Dave Nalle

    gonzo, who cares? what is your actual point here? you and those like you are going to assume Bush is lying no matter what he says and no matter how ridiculous that makes you, so long as he disagrees with the package of propaganda you’ve bought into. your partisan interests overwhelm any reason or common sense.

    all Bush is doing here is providing information about Iraq which isn’t getting press coverage to people he thinks will be willing to actually talk about it. Seems to me like he’s just trying to see that his efforts in that area get a fair shake in the media. In his situation I’d certainly do the same.

    Dave

  • http://adreamersholiday.blogspot.com Lee Richards

    …neocons in drag…

    would be a sure-fire crowd-pleaser at the YouTube debate.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer.php?name=gonzo%20marx gonzo marx

    @ #18 – actually…you should leave me the fuck out of it…i would like to have the full record, of this and other things like it…if they exonerate the Administration…great!!

    if not…then investigate and take it from there

    the problem for me is the secrecy and insistence of shit being “off the record”…and no records/minutes kept is my problem..i like transparancy

    as i said, if it’s good..i’ll call it that way, if not..i’ll say that too…i don’t really have the axe to grind one way or another, i do my best to take things one Issue at a time based on the facts at hand…

    systemic hiding of the facts…deliberately, and clearly shown by the facts infers the worst speculation…rather than showing that there’s nothing to hide and being as open as possible

    see the difference?

    all may be as completely innocent as a new born babe..or they could have toasted their cabal by bathing in the blood of a 100 virgins…a simple tape recording would have told us which it was…or neither

    but ask yourself…if all is completely innocent…why hide it?

    Excelsior?

  • zingzing

    dave: “your partisan interests overwhelm any reason or common sense.”

    that knife cuts both ways, dave. what do you think we’re talking about here? politics! remember?

    “you and those like you are going to assume Bush is lying no matter what he says and no matter how ridiculous that makes you, so long as he disagrees with the package of propaganda you’ve bought into.”

    that’s not the case and you know it. we know he’s going to spin whatever he has to say his way, and that sometimes, he spins shit so far that it really is just a pack of shit. and we also know that he isn’t beyond lying. sure, what he says will be taken with a grain of salt.

    but if we didn’t care what he had to say because it was all lies anyway, then why do you think people want to know what he has to say? doesn’t the fact that we’re interested clue you in to something?

  • http://www.elitebloggers.com Dave Nalle

    He’s not hiding the facts, he’s hiding the exact wording of what he said and the operational security of our forces in Iraq.

    Whatever facts he trotted out the talkers are clearly entirely authorized to reveal except for those which impact the safety of our forces, and he promised to release them on those later.

    The problem here is your predisposition to assume the worst, Gonzo, when there’s no evidence to suggest it.

    Dave

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer.php?name=gonzo%20marx gonzo marx

    @ #22 – well i gotta say that without a record, there’s NO WAY to know..one way or another, and THAT is the problem…

    as for any propensity to believe the worst…i don’t “believe” anything…do note you will NOT find me EVER using that word self descriptively…i say what i think..big difference

    and do think about it for a moment…look for yourself at the HUGE piles of information requests that have been denied by the Administration…some maybe righteously…but all of them?

    add that to the incidents where we finally got direct info..and it was always NOT good for the Administration..this becomes the only track record we have…

    simple enough to clear up…let the sun shine in, i’ll be one of the first to speak up on any bits that exonerate anyone

    but until then..i’ll point out when something is being hidden…or even when it COULD be that something is hidden…such as this specific case

    the Administration has given up any right to having the benefit of the doubt due to their own actions and track record…i’ll go so far as to not condemn without evidence…but i’ll NOT expect them to be innocent when they themselves hide the facts

    fair enough?

    Excelsior?

  • Leslie Bohn

    Whether or not O’Hanlon and Pollock are “neocons” is irrelevant. These two have been war supporters since before the invasion, and have chimed in with similar rosy predictions and praise for the war strategy for more than five years. They’ve been wrong at every step.

    This year, they strongly backed “the surge.” Now they say it’s working. Big surprise.

    That’s why their op-ed is not credible. They’ve staked their reputations as pundits on this war, and they’ll do what they can to make it seem like they were right all along. They weren’t. That’s why I think they’re wrong now.

    So rather than the media meme of “Even liberal pundits say the war is going well,” the real story is the much less interesting “Longtime war proponents reiterate their support.”

  • http://www.roblogpolitics.blogspot.com RJ

    Glenn Beck talked about this meeting on the radio quite a bit this morning. He made it sound like some sort of high-level meeting on super-secret intelligence.

    It’s sort of odd that right-wing radio talk show hosts should be given insider intel on the GWoT, isn’t it? :-/

  • Baronius

    You could bring together the top fifty talk-show hosts and not find a liberal. If he purposely excluded people though, that’d be unseemly. Of course if I were president, I wouldn’t let the Washington Post into the press room, but I expect a president to be less partisan than me.

  • Alec

    Dave Nalle – RE: I didn’t say they were all not total Bushies, just that as a group they were not uniformly loyal. I specifically cited Boortz and Larson as having previously been highly critical of the administration on a number of subjects. To suggest otherwise would be for you to admit that you’re not familiar enough with talk radio to know who the players are and what they do with their airtime to comment on this subject intelligently.

    Your statement here is so over-the-top and uninformed that I really wonder why you would even make it, since you are usually less pointlessly belligerent than the typical blogger.

    The world of talk radio is not some arcane area of research that requires the deep expertise of cult followers. And I have no way of knowing how detailed your knowledge of talk radio show hosts is. Would it even really matter?

    But let’s play a bit. I have listened to Dennis Prager off and on since he did “Religion on the Line” at KABC radio years ago, went to TV briefly, recruited Larry Elder to come to KABC ratio, and moved on to his current station. I’ve even met the guy and attended some of his courses on the Bible. Hugh Hewitt is also in my backyard here in Southern California, and I not only know him well, I know who his enemies are and have been, and even some of his rating book figures. I can even talk to you about the old days when Hewitt was one of the moderators on a public affairs show on public TV station KCET. Same with Medved in various ways. I know the back story on how Mark Levin’s syndicators strong-armed KABC radio into expanding his show an extra hour, even though the show he replaced had higher ratings in the time slot, and how Levin has not brought additional listeners to the station and has even hurt the ratings of the shows that precede and follow him. On the other hand, Lars Larson can’t even catch a cold in Los Angeles radio, one of the largest and most significant markets in the country (in English and Spanish), so if you think that he is a major player, then I would have to seriously doubt your ability to comment on this subject intelligently, if this were my main criterion for judging your worthiness. But it’s not.

    In any event, the place of these people in the pantheon of talk radio hosts is not the issue. It is that they are willing to serve as toadies, bootlickers and sycophants to the Bush Administration that is the matter at hand.

  • http://www.elitebloggers.com Dave Nalle

    @ #22 – well i gotta say that without a record, there’s NO WAY to know..one way or another, and THAT is the problem…

    Yes, but what’s the worst that could have happened in such a meeting? Even the supposed handing out of talking points wouldn’t exactly be a scandal of epic proportions.

    and do think about it for a moment…look for yourself at the HUGE piles of information requests that have been denied by the Administration…some maybe righteously…but all of them?

    Well there you go, Bush is filling all those requests in his own way. And btw, lots of FOIA requests relating to the war HAVE been filled. Some groundbreaking journalism has been the result. What Bush has not provided is unlimited opportunities for partisans on the Hill to grill his staff endlessly on trivial bullshit in order to score political points. Boo hoo.

    add that to the incidents where we finally got direct info..and it was always NOT good for the Administration..this becomes the only track record we have…

    I don’t see it. When we finally got the Plame info, for example, it turned out to be considerably less bad for the administration than people were speculating.

    simple enough to clear up…let the sun shine in, i’ll be one of the first to speak up on any bits that exonerate anyone

    I agree that this would be a better policy, but the administration seems incapable of grasping the concept, even when secrecy hurts them.

    but until then..i’ll point out when something is being hidden…or even when it COULD be that something is hidden…such as this specific case

    Except that as I said before, even the worse that could be hidden would be trivial.

    the Administration has given up any right to having the benefit of the doubt due to their own actions and track record…i’ll go so far as to not condemn without evidence…but i’ll NOT expect them to be innocent when they themselves hide the facts

    You’re paranoid, and with much less cause than one ought reasonably to have.

    Whether or not O’Hanlon and Pollock are “neocons” is irrelevant. These two have been war supporters since before the invasion, and have chimed in with similar rosy predictions and praise for the war strategy for more than five years. They’ve been wrong at every step.

    I see you got your talking points. The only problem is that it’s not true. Go to O’Hanlon’s page at Brookings and read his past articles. Go back to 2005. He’s been critical of the administration and the war strategy more than a few times.

    To be entirely fair, I think that they’re both pro democracy, pro westernization, but not happy with how Bush has tried to do it. They’d have been cheerleaders if it was Clinton at the helm.

    This year, they strongly backed “the surge.” Now they say it’s working. Big surprise.

    I’ve read that article. By ‘strongly’ you must mean ‘not wildly negative’ or ‘thinking the surge might have a longshot chance’. Pollock wrote an article saying the surge wouldn’t work unless it had 450,000 troops. ferchrissakes. That’s hardly support.

    That’s why their op-ed is not credible. They’ve staked their reputations as pundits on this war, and they’ll do what they can to make it seem like they were right all along. They weren’t. That’s why I think they’re wrong now.

    I agree, they may have been wrong in many of the things they said in the past, both negative and positive about the war. They’ve both written extensively on it. But a lot of that stuff was hypothetical and the facts they used generally weren’t wrong. This time they seem to have more facts at their command than usual, so they seem more believable. It’s not like their argument isn’t corroborated by just about every other relatively impartial source.


    Glenn Beck talked about this meeting on the radio quite a bit this morning. He made it sound like some sort of high-level meeting on super-secret intelligence.

    I think Beck’s problem is that he has a very tiny penis.

    Dave

  • REMF

    “It’s sort of odd that right-wing radio talk show hosts should be given insider intel on the GWoT, isn’t it? :-/”

    Actually, more important intel is for the GWoPCH…
    – MCH

  • Leslie Bohn

    Dave:

    To be entirely fair, I think that they’re both pro democracy, pro westernization, but not happy with how Bush has tried to do it.

    That is precisely what they would like you to think.

    It’s just not supported by the many, many essays they’ve written and interviews they’ve given. I know you’ve read the Glenn Greenwald pieces in Salon the last couple of days, and I urge everyone to read the actual words of war supporters O’Hanlon and Pollock, amply quoted therein.

    They have both supported the war strategy and gently criticzed the war stratgey, throughout the war, subtly shifting their opinion to make it seem as thouggh they were right the whole time.

  • http://musical-guru.blogspot.com/ Michael J. West

    Glenn Beck talked about this meeting on the radio quite a bit this morning. He made it sound like some sort of high-level meeting on super-secret intelligence.

    If Beck said it, it surely must be ill-considered and obnoxious bullshit.

  • http://www.elitebloggers.com Dave Nalle

    amply quoted therein

    Make that SELECTIVELY quoted therein. All of Greenwalds snippets are from the very beginning of the war or the last few months. Nothing from the period when they were writing more critical articles. It’s classic cherry picking.

    Here are some different quotes:

    11/9/2006

    “It cannot be seriously contested that the Iraq operation is Mr. Bush’s war. Although many Democrats supported his decision to confront Saddam, it was nonetheless his decision. More importantly, it was his administration that decided how to wage war — with minimal effort to work with allies, with trivial preparation for the post-Saddam period in Iraq, with huge mistakes particularly in 2003 about going into the country with too few forces and no real plan for stabilizing the place and for disbanding the Iraqi army and firing Ba’athists and keeping the international community out.”

    12/14/2005

    A sober reading of the data argues against a rapid withdrawal, which would concede the fight to the terrorists. But this does not mean we can’t shift policy. We could announce a plan for substantial troop reductions (but not complete withdrawal) over the next 12 to 24 months, as most Iraqis say they desire.

    10/25/2005

    While the US should not withdraw from Iraq, it should announce the goal now of troop reductions next year to make the military mission more sustainable politically–inside Iraq as much as within America–and salvage a badly overstretched US military…And it should unequivocally foreswear cruel and inhuman treatment of detainees, as proposed by Senator John McCain–rather than insist, as Mr. Bush in effect now does, that torture should remain an option.

    5/5/2005

    Because the United States was unprepared for the job of reestablishing order after Saddam Hussein’s fall, chaos ensued, Iraqi goodwill toward the United States was largely squandered, and the insurgency established a momentum it might not otherwise have been able to gain. This happened despite ample warnings beforehand from members of Congress, retired military officers, State Department experts and numerous independent scholars.

    2/2/2005

    A central fact about Iraq today is that no strategy is risk-free. Even if we can stomach the casualties and the costs, there is no guarantee that indefinite continuation of the current mission will produce victory. Rather than reinforce failure, we need to find a new approach. (in an article which argues for a timeline for rapid troop withdrawal)

    1/1/2005

    The post-invasion phase of the Iraq mission has been the least well-planned American military mission since Somalia in 1993, if not Lebanon in 1983, and its consequences for the nation have been far worse than any set of military mistakes since Vietnam. The U.S. armed forces simply were not prepared for the core task that the United States needed to perform when it destroyed Iraq’s existing government–to provide security, always the first responsibility of any sovereign government or occupier.

    The standard explanation for this lack of preparedness among most defense and foreign policy specialists, and the U.S. military as well, is that Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and much of the rest of the Bush administration insisted on fighting the war with too few troops and too Pollyannaish a view of what would happen inside Iraq once Saddam was overthrown. This explanation is largely right.

    9/28/2004

    President Bush’s assessment of the situation in Iraq is too optimistic. Things are not going well. The insurgency, in combination with an increasing rate of crime is making it hard for regular Iraqis to feel secure in their daily lives. (from a radio interview)

    Look, I could go on and on, and this is just material from O’Hanlon who has written hundreds of articles since the war started. Three things are very clear from going through his material.

    1. He’s no friend of the administration. He’s opposed or criticized them on almost every major policy issue, not just on the Iraq War or the War on Terror.

    2. He clearly blames the administration for the situation in Iraq and the incompetence of the post-invasion period, laying blame for the lack of any planning firmly at the feet of Rumsfeld in multiple articles.

    3. Far earlier than most experts in the field, he was strongly advocating a change of strategy to a troop reduction. His oft repeated plan, starting in 2004, has been to rapidly reduce the size of US forces in Iraq to a training and special ops force of 30-50,000 men, transfer command to NATO or the UN and thereby reduce the negative impact of a large US presence and reduce hostility to the US.

    If you read his articles these three facts are indisputible. They don’t make him a rabid, irrational anti-war zealot. He’s not accusing Bush of war crimes or calling for instant withdrawal. But what it does make O’Hanlon is exactly what he has been portrayed as, a prominent critic of administration policy both in Iraq and in the War on Terror. His arguments may be rational rather than radical, but he’s still not toeing the administration line. The evidence supports no other interpretation.

    Dave

  • http://musical-guru.blogspot.com/ Michael J. West

    heh.

  • http://www.elitebloggers.com Dave Nalle

    If Beck said it, it surely must be ill-considered and obnoxious bullshit.

    I haven’t really listened to Beck since he went national with his political show, but he can’t possibly be as big an idiot or as obnoxious as Mark Levin.

    Dave

  • http://musical-guru.blogspot.com/ Michael J. West

    He’s possibly an even BIGGER idiot than Mark Levin. He’s a different kind of obnoxious than Levin – the irresponsible loudmouth who thinks he’s funny, rather than the arrogant know-it-all asshole. But I’ll give Beck this: the one thing that does keep him from being the less obnoxious of the two is that he doesn’t have that godawful nasal foghorn of a voice that Levin’s been cursed with.

  • http://www.elitebloggers.com Dave Nalle

    Levin’s voice IS annoying, but he can’t hold a candle to Robert F. Kennedy’s near-death throat cancery rasp for grating and somewhat scary. Despite my childhood experiences with the little punk and the resulting lifelong grudge, I just want to jump through the radio and make him go to an ear nose and throat specialist to get tested.

    Dave

  • Leslie Bohn

    Dave:
    Of course you can cherry-pick your own quotes saying the opposite. This is partly my point: That these two are so full of equivocation, of on-the-one-hand-this-and-on-the-other-hand-that that they can say they were right about things however they go. Their conclusions are always that the war should continue, and we’ll win eventually, and about this they’re wrong, although they’ll never have to admit it.

    You won’t find a quote from before the war that says we shouldn’t fight, and you won’t find a quote since that says the war was wrong and we should pull out. Hence, “war supporters.” Who were wrong. We should stop listening to them.

  • http://musical-guru.blogspot.com/ Michael J. West

    And for the sake of fairness, I’d like to point out, just based on today’s Nealz Nuze, Boortz is as susceptible to intellectual dishonesty as anyone else. So there’s no need to trust him 100%, either.

  • http://musical-guru.blogspot.com/ Michael J. West

    Leslie,

    these two are so full of equivocation, of on-the-one-hand-this-and-on-the-other-hand-that that they can say they were right about things however they go.

    Are you sure that’s “equivocation”? It could be “nuance.” The situation in Iraq is complicated, and any assessment of it with any value would also have to be complicated, full of shades of gray and varying degrees of qualification.

    Dave:
    Ok, I just finished listening to Boortz on the WSB feed, and to clarify exactly what he meant, it seems that Bush revealed some operational details which are not yet cleared for the public and asked that they be held in confidence until he could get approval from the Pentagon for the talkers to discuss them on the air.

    That seems perfectly reasonable to me. In fact, it seems appropriately responsible.

    Wait a minute. These are details that are “Not yet cleared for the public,” yet they’re cleared for talk-show hosts? Were these talkers given a security clearance somewhere along the line? If not, how does it seem responsible to you that Bush was sharing with them information that was not cleared for the general public?

    And whether they were cleared for that information or not, do you honestly not see it as at all suspicious that POTUS was sharing operational secrets with them?

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer.php?name=gonzo%20marx gonzo marx

    Pravda anyone?

    Excelsior?

  • Leslie Bohn

    MJW:

    O’Hanlon, for one, seems to have discovered nuance only since his non-nuanced predictions have proven completely wrong.

    Your contention, Dave, that O’H and P have supported the war while consistently criticising the Bush/Rumsfeld strategy is patently false. They have actually lauded the strategy when it behooved them (usually before a new strategy is implemented), and gently criticized when that behooved them (generally after it has failed).

    Here’s O’Hanlon on April 9, 2003, about 3 weeks after the invasion, in a column (seriously) headlined “Was the Strategy Brilliant?” :

    Whether the overall concept deserves to be called brilliant is debatable. But it does appear to have been clever in several specific ways,

    and

    it has indeed been a very good plan.

    Here’s some “nuance” from just days before the invasion:

    In all likelihood, the war will culminate in a battle for Baghdad starting anywhere from five days to two weeks after bombs begin to fall. The war could be over within a month

    And here’s a month earlier, as he cheerleads for war in the ultra-conservative Washington Times:

    the president was still convincing on his central point that the time for war is near.

    Mr. Bush has adopted a firm but patient Iraq policy.

    And it simply doesn’t get any less nuanced than this, from the same column:

    We soon will need to lead a military coalition to do the job ourselves. The case is that simple.

    Does this gibe with your statement that “the situation in Iraq is complicated, and any assessment of it with any value would also have to be complicated, full of shades of gray and varying degrees of qualification?”

    No, the case is that simple, said O’Hanlon.

    These guys have been fervent war supporters since the beginning, and are now trying to convince everybody (successfully in at least one case) that they always had reservations and doubts. Fortunately, we can read.

    Its just that simple.

  • http://www.elitebloggers.com Dave Nalle

    Wait a minute. These are details that are “Not yet cleared for the public,” yet they’re cleared for talk-show hosts? Were these talkers given a security clearance somewhere along the line? If not, how does it seem responsible to you that Bush was sharing with them information that was not cleared for the general public?

    It’s been previously established that the administration believes that they have the right to declassify anything they want to on the fly, and while doing so has raised a certain amount of hue and cry, the law seems to clearlys support at least the president’s authority to reveal classified information as he sees fit.

    And whether they were cleared for that information or not, do you honestly not see it as at all suspicious that POTUS was sharing operational secrets with them?

    Not really. This is going to be something along the lines of taking out a map of Iraq and pointing at places where there are US troop movements which have been particularly effective. It’s the kind of thing which may be technically classified but which any bright researcher could probably figure out with a small amount of effort. There is a LOT of classified material like that.

    Dave

  • http://www.elitebloggers.com Dave Nalle

    And for the sake of fairness, I’d like to point out, just based on today’s Nealz Nuze, Boortz is as susceptible to intellectual dishonesty as anyone else. So there’s no need to trust him 100%, either.

    You’ll need to be more specific. Just reading the three most recent articles didn’t show me any obvious intellectual dishonesty. He’s certainly honest in his dislike of CAIR in the most recent article, and the article on the same topic of this article seems obvious.

    Dave

  • http://www.elitebloggers.com Dave Nalle

    Of course you can cherry-pick your own quotes saying the opposite.

    Yes, that was the point I was making.

    This is partly my point: That these two are so full of equivocation, of on-the-one-hand-this-and-on-the-other-hand-that that they can say they were right about things however they go.

    Except that there is a clear pattern to at least O’Hanlon’s thinking, which we can track because he has written so much. He supported the invasion. Became discouraged with the reconstruction and began proposing alternative plans including a pullout, and then very recently began to see some hope. This is EXACTLY the logical progreess which many experts have gone through and it’s perfectly reasonable and generated by what’s been going on in Iraq. The point I hope I made in my earlier comment is that anyone who has NOT gone through changes in their opinion on the war is basing their opinion on ideology rather than the situation in Iraq.

    Their conclusions are always that the war should continue, and we’ll win eventually, and about this they’re wrong, although they’ll never have to admit it.

    They’re wrong in your opinion. And I think if you asked them they would agree with me that the ‘war’ ended years ago and that what is going on now and has been going on is a very rough peacekeeping and rebuilding mission. And their plan for continuing it – again – is at odds with the Bush administration, so they remain critical of Bush and his version of the effort in Iraq.

    Clearly you believe that the only way to be critical or in opposition to the Iraq effort or the administration plans there is to advocate an immediate and total pullout. That’s just not true. It’s an extremist position based on ideology rather than analysis.

    You won’t find a quote from before the war that says we shouldn’t fight, and you won’t find a quote since that says the war was wrong and we should pull out. Hence, “war supporters.” Who were wrong. We should stop listening to them.

    No one has ever claimed that they were frothing pacifists who opposed war on principle or that they opposed the idea of the initial invasion. Those who have been promoting their article have generally been doing so by calling them ‘critics of the war’ or ‘bush administration critics’ and those two descriptions are entirely accurate.

    Your contention, Dave, that O’H and P have supported the war while consistently criticising the Bush/Rumsfeld strategy is patently false. They have actually lauded the strategy when it behooved them (usually before a new strategy is implemented), and gently criticized when that behooved them (generally after it has failed).

    Did you not read the quotes? They’ve been quite harsh after the fact, and I’m not finding anything they wrote which endorse Bush strategies except around the time of the original invasion.

    Here’s O’Hanlon on April 9, 2003, about 3 weeks after the invasion, in a column (seriously) headlined “Was the Strategy Brilliant?” :

    Whether the overall concept deserves to be called brilliant is debatable. But it does appear to have been clever in several specific ways,

    and

    it has indeed been a very good plan.

    I already acknowledged that they supported the initial invasion. Who at that time that wasn’t ideologically opposed to the war or just mired in irrational Bush hatred didn’t see things as going well?

    Here’s some “nuance” from just days before the invasion:

    In all likelihood, the war will culminate in a battle for Baghdad starting anywhere from five days to two weeks after bombs begin to fall. The war could be over within a month

    Again, a statement of accepted fact at the time.

    Does this gibe with your statement that “the situation in Iraq is complicated, and any assessment of it with any value would also have to be complicated, full of shades of gray and varying degrees of qualification?”

    That was then, this is now. The invasion was a much more straightforward proposition. You’re trying to compare apples and oranges.

    These guys have been fervent war supporters since the beginning, and are now trying to convince everybody (successfully in at least one case) that they always had reservations and doubts. Fortunately, we can read.

    But you’re apparently incapable of doing so in chronological order or with any thoroughness.

    Dave

  • zingzing

    someone: “In all likelihood, the war will culminate in a battle for Baghdad starting anywhere from five days to two weeks after bombs begin to fall. The war could be over within a month”

    dave: “Again, a statement of accepted fact at the time.”

    not really. not at all. a lot of people, including al qaeda, were saying that we would be bogged down in a guerrilla war for years to come. that’s what i understood as a distinct possibility at the time. i can’t remember the exact words, but they were something to the effect of “iraq will become a military and political quagmire.”

    no one really accepted a 1-month war as “fact.” if they did, they were really fucking stupid.

    and EVERYONE was questioning what we were going to do after bahgdad fell, even the damn president… what are you talking about? the war over in a month… are you quibbiling about terms again? is this not a war?

  • http://www.elitebloggers.com Dave Nalle

    dave: “Again, a statement of accepted fact at the time.”

    not really. not at all. a lot of people, including al qaeda, were saying that we would be bogged down in a guerrilla war for years to come. that’s what i understood as a distinct possibility at the time. i can’t remember the exact words, but they were something to the effect of “iraq will become a military and political quagmire.”

    Like many others on the left you’re choosing not to differentiate between the invasion and the extended peacekeeping and reconstruction period which came after it. O’Hanlon was clearly talking about the invasion and the pitched warfare phase of operations in Iraq, and that was over about as quickly as he suggested.

    no one really accepted a 1-month war as “fact.” if they did, they were really fucking stupid.

    No, they were correct. In fact, they were conservative. The invasion started on March 22nd, Baghdad fell on April 9th and Saddam’s time in power ended. Tikrit was the last town to fall on April 13th. The coalition declared the invasion over and the country under control on April 15th. That’s a 3 week war.

    and EVERYONE was questioning what we were going to do after bahgdad fell, even the damn president… what are you talking about? the war over in a month… are you quibbiling about terms again? is this not a war?

    No, technically it’s not a war once you’ve conquered the country. What we’ve been fighting since then can really only be called an insurrection or more precisely ongoing criminal activity. Most of the elements of a real, popular insurrection died out long ago or turned into a nascent civil war.

    Just because we have troops in Iraq and there is fighting, that doesn’t mean it’s a war.

    Dave

  • zingzing

    “Like many others on the left you’re choosing not to differentiate between the invasion and the extended peacekeeping and reconstruction period which came after it.”

    so this isn’t a war then? ok. if that’s what you want to say. it’s bullshit, but if that’s how you justify saying we aren’t at war anymore, then fine. still, this thing’s not over, like the quote said it would be, and that’s the fact. i don’t care at all what you call it. it’s going four years now, not one month.

    “That’s a 3 week war.”

    yep. it was a three week war. ok.

    “No, technically it’s not a war once you’ve conquered the country.”

    technically, technicalities don’t mean shit.

    “What we’ve been fighting since then can really only be called an insurrection or more precisely ongoing criminal activity.”

    it looks a lot like vietnam. it looks a lot like lots of things. mostly like other wars. insurrection, war, criminal activity (on quite a scale!) it doesn’t matter. we are still there, the military is still there, there is daily fighting and americans dying and bombs going off and choppers and everything else that makes it look exactly like a war. it’s a war. undeclared or not, that’s what it is.

    “Just because we have troops in Iraq and there is fighting, that doesn’t mean it’s a war.”

    why not? is it not the “war on terror?” which is it then?

    maybe i just define war different from how you do. all i know is that if i were to suit up in some camoflauge and carry a gun and get shouted orders shouted at me and walk around in a foreign country looking for enemies to kill or to not be killed by, i would consider that a war.

    you’re arguing over vocabulary. it doesn’t change anything at all. fine, let’s call it whatever you want to call it. it is now an “acre of farm land.” the “acre of farm land” in iraq. did anything change? nope.

  • http://www.elitebloggers.com Dave Nalle

    Just to refresh the memories of those who seem to have forgotten public attitudes towards the Iraq war, here are some CBS News poll results from May of 2003.

    “How would you say things are going for the U.S. in its efforts to bring stability and order to Iraq?”

    Very Well or Somewhat Well = 72%

    “Looking back, do you think the United States did the right thing in taking military action against Iraq, or should the U.S. have stayed out?”

    Did the Right Thing = 63%

    Dave

  • zingzing

    well, there are a lot of dumb people. and things did LOOK a bit rosey at that point. but remember the reaction to “mission accomplished?” a lot of people were certainly skeptical. most of the world knew the shit was just starting.

  • Alec

    RE: It’s been previously established that the administration believes that they have the right to declassify anything they want to on the fly, and while doing so has raised a certain amount of hue and cry, the law seems to clearlys support at least the president’s authority to reveal classified information as he sees fit.

    ‘The rule is, ‘classified’ to-morrow and ‘classified’ yesterday — but never ‘classified’ to-day.’
    ‘It must come sometimes to “classified to-day,”‘ Alice objected.
    ‘No, it can’t,’ said the Queen. ‘It’s ‘classified’ every other day: to-day isn’t any other day, you know.’

    — With a nod to Through the Looking Glass

  • http://www.roblogpolitics.blogspot.com RJ

    It deserves to be said that talk radio is not just some propaganda mouthpiece for the Bush administration. Most talk radio show hosts have strongly opposed Bush on several things over the years, like immigration “reform” and the Harriet Miers nomination and the Dubai ports deal. Others have been critical of NCLB and the Medicare prescription drug entitlement. Others have have been downright ruthless in their condemnation of Bush for his refusal to pardon Ramos and Compean, and the rules of engagement our Soldiers and Marines must deal with in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    So, it ain’t Pravda. Not hardly. It’s more like Hillary Clinton having a “special” meeting with the editors of the NYT, WaPo, NewsWeek, and TIME. In other words, it’s a supportive audience that can get the message out.

  • REMF

    “Mission accomplished.”
    – G.W. Bush, May 1, 2003

    “No, technically it’s not a war once you’ve conquered the country.”
    – Dave Nalle

    Tell that to the families of the 3,340 Americans killed in Iraq SINCE May 1, 2003, Nalle.
    – MCH

  • http://www.elitebloggers.com Dave Nalle

    IDAMF, people in the military die in a lot of operations which are not wars. You of all people ought to be aware of that. Remember the embassy guards in Lebanon? The sailors on the USS Cole? Men we’ve lost in peacekeeping operations in Bosnia or Africa? Those were clearly not wars, but the men who were killed are no less dead.

    well, there are a lot of dumb people. and things did LOOK a bit rosey at that point.

    That’s all I was trying to point out – that the attitudes people had about the war in the summer of 2003 might have been quite a bit different from what developed later, and that’s not their fault or something to hold them accountable for.

    but remember the reaction to “mission accomplished?” a lot of people were certainly skeptical. most of the world knew the shit was just starting.

    That reaction was a bit of carefully crafted spinmongering. Most people initially understood that the banner and the speech were all about the conclusion of the invasion and that ship’s mission, but the media grabbed hold of the image and rand with it and distorted the meaning brilliantly.

    Dave

  • Cooey Bono

    Conservative media has been yucking it up about compassionate conservatism, big spending, and amnesty for years–hardly a chorus of yes men.

    Would somebody tell me how many left on the axis of evil? Oh yeah, ONE. Damn, how’d that happen?

  • Alec

    Dave – A couple of questions:

    Which conservative talk radio or TV host, conservative pundit, conservative commentator, conservative blogger, conservative newspaper editorial has PUBLICALLY condemned Bush for holding this meeting with conservative talk radio hosts?

    Which conservative talk radio or TV host, conservative pundit, conservative commentator, conservative blogger, conservative newspaper editorial has PUBLICALLY condemned these talk show hosts for attending the meeting with President Bush?

    Obviously, you don’t have to list them all. Just the top 10 most prominent will suffice.

  • http://adreamersholiday.blogspot.com Lee Richards

    According to Dave, anyone who thinks we’re presently at war in Iraq is mistaken.

    That would include the entire Bush administration, the Congress, the U.S. military, all presidential candidates, a great number of liberals AND conservatives, many friendly AND hostile foreign governments, the press, and a huge majority of the American AND Iraqi public.

    Thanks for setting everyone straight, Dave.

  • http://www.elitebloggers.com Dave Nalle

    Which conservative talk radio or TV host, conservative pundit, conservative commentator, conservative blogger, conservative newspaper editorial has PUBLICALLY condemned Bush for holding this meeting with conservative talk radio hosts?

    I don’t follow. Why would a conservative commentator condemn a conservative president for meeting with conservative talk show hosts? Even those on the right who don’t agree with Bush on a number of issues aren’t going to take exception to his meeting with talk show hosts unless they’re petulant that they weren’t invited.

    Which conservative talk radio or TV host, conservative pundit, conservative commentator, conservative blogger, conservative newspaper editorial has PUBLICALLY condemned these talk show hosts for attending the meeting with President Bush?

    See above. Why would anyone do that?

    Obviously, you don’t have to list them all. Just the top 10 most prominent will suffice.

    I don’t have to list any of them, because I’ve never suggested that any such condemnation has taken place. If you thin it has, feel free to make that list yourself.

    My raising of the question here is probably as close as anyone even vaguely on the right is going to come to criticizing these meetings.

    Dave

  • Dr Dreadful

    According to Dave, anyone who thinks we’re presently at war in Iraq is mistaken.

    That would include the entire Bush administration, the Congress, the U.S. military, all presidential candidates, a great number of liberals AND conservatives, many friendly AND hostile foreign governments, the press, and a huge majority of the American AND Iraqi public.

    Not to mention Osama bin Laden and Bush himself – if this speech last week is anything to go by.

  • http://www.elitebloggers.com Dave Nalle

    According to Dave, anyone who thinks we’re presently at war in Iraq is mistaken.

    That would include the entire Bush administration, the Congress, the U.S. military, all presidential candidates, a great number of liberals AND conservatives, many friendly AND hostile foreign governments, the press, and a huge majority of the American AND Iraqi public.

    Not exactly, Lee. But I think that even you would admit that the word ‘war’ is getting thrown around much too freely these days.

    Is the ‘War on Terror’ really a war? Is the ‘War on Drugs’ really a war? How about the ‘War on Crime’ or the ‘War on Poverty’? How do you make war on a concept?

    What most of us would agree is a war, would be a conflict where the armed forces of two nations confront eachother. Does this describe what’s currently going on in Iraq? Is al Qaeda a nation? Does it have an army or territory as such?

    The point is that there is a clear dividing line between the broader concept of conflict which we are calling ‘war’ for convenience and the much more specific term where we refer to ‘a war’ where we are fighting a clearly defined enemy on a identifiable battlefield.

    The invasion of Iraq and the elimination of government was clearly ‘A War’. What’s gone on since then we call ‘war’, but with an undefined and shifting enemy and no clear battlefield, technically it’s something else which we call ‘war’ for convenience.

    Dave

  • http://adreamersholiday.blogspot.com Lee Richards

    Dave:
    War–
    1. A conflict carried on by force of arms, as between nations or between parties within a nation.

    2. A state or period of armed hostility or active military operations.

    3. A contest carried on by force of arms.

    4. Active hostility or contention, struggle, armed fighting, etc., etc.

    It may be “convenient” to come up with definitions that suit you, but even Bush knows what “war” means.

  • http://www.roblogpolitics.blogspot.com RJ

    Which conservative talk radio or TV host, conservative pundit, conservative commentator, conservative blogger, conservative newspaper editorial has PUBLICALLY condemned Bush for holding this meeting with conservative talk radio hosts?

    Which conservative talk radio or TV host, conservative pundit, conservative commentator, conservative blogger, conservative newspaper editorial has PUBLICALLY condemned these talk show hosts for attending the meeting with President Bush?

    Well, Michael Savage is one. (Prolly cuz he wasn’t invited…)

  • REMF

    “It may be “convenient” to come up with definitions that suit you, but even Bush knows what “war” means.”

    He also knows the meaning of AWOL.

  • http://www.elitebloggers.com Dave Nalle

    Lee, the reason they have different definitions is because there are different uses of the word. The first definition is usually the most common, and it’s what most people think of as “A War” as I pointed out before.

    The other, looser definitions, are more appropriate to the current situation in Iraq, but the point I’m trying to make – which shouldn’t be too subtle even for you – is that there’s a difference between the invasion of the country and dealing with internal problems and rebuilding that country.

    Dave

  • http://adreamersholiday.blogspot.com Lee Richards

    Dave,

    When, specifically, did the war end–day, month, year? (Please don’t make it too subtle for me.)

    Thanks,

    Lee

    P.S.: Did anyone think to tell the troops yet?

  • http://www.elitebloggers.com Dave Nalle

    Lee, did you miss comment #46?

    And the troops are probably the most aware of the difference between what they’re doing now an a simple invasion.

    Dave

  • Alec

    Dave — RE: I don’t follow. Why would a conservative commentator condemn a conservative president for meeting with conservative talk show hosts? Even those on the right who don’t agree with Bush on a number of issues aren’t going to take exception to his meeting with talk show hosts unless they’re petulant that they weren’t invited.

    A conservative commentator might easily condemn a Republican president for meeting with conservative talk show hosts if he or she believed that the president was out of line in seeking to make these commentators unpaid propagandists. Bush is behaving here more like a Prince than an elected president, and the talk show hosts falling all over him and agreeing to an off-the-record meeting are behaving like fawning courtiers, so happy for the attention of the monarch (or Lord Protector) that they willingly sell out their honor.

    Someone who truly believed what he wrote in the post, “The Tradition of Liberty and the Republican Party” would easily recognize the appearance of a conflict of interest by these hosts agreeing to meet with the president. They may claim that they disagree with the president on various issues, but there is no way that their listeners can know when they are honestly airing their opinions and when they are whoring themselves out to the party in power. And since Bush is a lame duck, they have no particular reason to curry favor with him, so their obeisance here also signals the Republican presidential candidates that they are ready, willing, and able to pimp themselves out to any incoming Republican administration.

    I’m a bit surprised that John Bambenek is not firing off an FCC complaint against these guys for using public airwaves to shill for this president. Seems like a potential abuse to me.

    It is interesting to see how Michael Medved, for example, is proud to be called by Bush to help put out his message. Shouldn’t he, then, be officially employed by the Bush White House as a press aid or propaganda officer rather than appearing on the public air waves? If a Bush proposal might prove disastrous to the nation, could we really count on Medved or his fellow travelers to be honest with his listeners and sound an alarm, or would he put his manifest loyalty to the president higher than any other principles?

    Medved tries to rationalize his actions by noting that during the 60s, the Alsop brothers functioned in a similar role for John Kennedy, and goes on to say that “[e]veryone knew that the Alsops amounted to semi-official administration spokespeople and defenders.” While this may have been true of the cynical Beltway insiders, none of the publications that the Alsops wrote for ever added a printed disclaimer that what these guys were unpaid shills for a Democratic administration.

    I also wonder how the meeting might have gone had these talk show hosts announced to their listeners in advance that they would be going to the White House, and had they solicited questions from the audience about their greatest concerns. Perhaps a president (like much of Congress) who often appears to hold the citizenry in contempt when they fall to support him might actually be forced to listen to what the people want, instead of issuing oracular pronouncements to be disseminated by his votaries.

    It is extremely odd that people who love to blather about liberty are so happy to kiss Bush’s feet, so willing to yield to authority so eager to assume the role of lapdog.

    RE: My raising of the question here is probably as close as anyone even vaguely on the right is going to come to criticizing these meetings.

    And I give you credit for doing so.