November 02, 2003

MaDo Distortions Department (Continued) Another

MaDo Distortions Department (Continued)

Another offensively inaccurate piece from MaDo today. Leave aside the gratuitous insult about Sports Illustrated being the on-board read on Air Force I rather than TNR.

Leave aside how Dowd depicts Bush in a harsher ethical light than the Jayson Blairs, Stephen Glass' and Janet Cooke's of the world.

That's all pretty predictable fare coming from Maureen Dowd.

But check out this factually inaccurate (surprise!) commentary:

"Now we're in the postwar war, and President Bush is still manipulating reality. He wants to obscure the intensity and nature of the opposition, choosing to lump anyone who resists the American occupation in the category of terrorist." [emphasis added]

This bothered me for a couple reasons.

For one, as I'll detail below, it's flat out false.

For another, I myself had criticized Bush in the past for having a tendency to describe too much of the resistance in Iraq as terrorist in nature (via a piece I had up contra Flypaper).

But here's the point. Bush, for a good while now--including back during his September speech to the United Nations--has increasingly made reference, not only to terrorists opposing the U.S. in Iraq, but also regime "holdouts."

Put differently, he's been more frank about the somewhat variegated nature of the opposition in Iraq recently.

So my concerns at least, as someone who has followed the issue pretty closely, have been allayed somewhat recently.

But then MaDo comes in and ignores all the evidence to the contrary to facilitate her slanted, anti-Bush op-ed writing process.

I mean, take a look at what Bush has actually said over the past months.

For instance, check out the reference to "Saddam holdouts" in this speech.

And in a key national address, Bush said as follows:

"Some of the attackers are members of the old Saddam regime, who fled the battlefield and now fight in the shadows. Some of the attackers are foreign terrorists, who have come to Iraq to pursue their war on America and other free nations. We cannot be certain to what extent these groups work together. We do know they have a common goal -- reclaiming Iraq for tyranny." [emphasis added]

Put simply, Bush has been careful to say that resistance in Iraq is stemming from both terrorists and Saddam loyalists/holdouts (with very few exceptions, where he doesn't make such a distinction, such as this one).

Most recently, Bush made the distinction just yesterday in his weekly radio address (see graf 4).

Veteran journalists like Mike Isikoff, in an article critical of Bush suggesting that Saddam is organizing some of the attacks, writes:

"THE OFFICIAL BUSH administration position is that the attacks on coalition forces inside Iraq are the work of isolated gangs of Saddam loyalists and Baathist die-hards who, in some instances, have teamed up with an assortment of “foreign fighters,” Islamic radicals and even common criminals for individual strikes on U.S. troops. But an alternative view is gaining acceptance within the U.S. intelligence community about the origins of the campaign. Scraps of evidence-most not publicly acknowledged by the administration—suggest that Saddam and some of his top Baath Party lieutenants began detailed logistical planning and purchasing for possible guerilla fighting in the months before the war, officials say." [emphasis added]

Leave aside any role Saddam may have in the increasingly sophisticated (and deadly) attacks.

The point here is that, if Mike Isikoff can see that the "official Bush administration position" (re: the source of the continuing attacks in Iraq) is that said attacks stem from a mixture of Saddam holdouts, Baathist die-hards, criminals and terrorists--why can't Dowd see it?

Perhaps, one might conclude, because she purposefully chooses not to?

Because acknowledging the Administration's more complex description of the nature of the Iraqi resistance might not be convenient vis-a-vis her thesis that Bush "lumps" all those opposing the U.S. occupation in Iraq as terrorists?

So, just like that, she chooses to simply ignore all the speeches and Administration statements to the contrary.

Listen, like Camille Paglia, I don't think the blogosphere should simply be relegated to the preserve of "political or media junkies preoccupied with pedestrian minutiae and a sophomoric 'gotcha' mentality."

Yeah, like Paglia says, I agree that such monomaniacal focus can get a bit "depressing and claustrophobic."

The problem is, however, Dowd's not writing in an obscure regional paper but rather splashing her (factually incorrect) musings in the opinion pages of the Sunday New York Times--surely the most influential single page of commentary in the entire spectrum of American print media.

Her misrepresentations therefore have a significant impact on perceptions of the honesty of the President, the credibility of the Administration's foreign policy worldview, and more.

So I'll risk coming off as a sophomoric gotcha type--as I think the stakes are well worth it. If the pattern of her seemingly willfull carelessness continues to be exposed here in the blogosphere, perhaps we might someday get results in terms of better monitoring of MaDo over at W. 43rd St.

I wouldn't ever have held my breath for Howell Raines to reel her in. But perhaps Bill Keller will take it more seriously.

The factually incorrect (and perhaps purposeful) misrepresentations are just coming too often.

UPDATE: A reader writes in:

"Why so much brain power wasted on this insignificant woman's blatherings? I think a lot of you men have a secret crush on her."

erp
Flagler Beach FL

Heh.

Well at least she doesn't have that intimidatingly large Friedmanian moustache.

Oh, and last I heard, no one is stalking her....

ANOTHER UPDATE: Check out my good friend Desmond Butler's excellent report on terrorists/foreign jihadis coming to Iraq from Europe (and no, I don't think his article contravenes my prior analyses contra the flypaper thesis--but it does give Dubya's references to terrorists more credence).

Posted by Gregory at November 2, 2003 11:42 AM
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