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August 14, 2007

Hero of the Day

Reading this profile of Robert Gates, you'd get the impression he's some sort of independent actor within the war debate -- a quiet, thoughtful man who will, at some point, render an honest judgment that George W. Bush and the Democratic Congress will have to react to. You would not get the impression that this is but one more functionary who serves at the pleasure of the president, who won't publicly speak his mind if his conclusions conflict with the administration's favored path forward, and who, like Colin Powell and the Iraq Study Group before him, can be easily ignored in private.

The media's enduring tendency to try and create new heroes and pivot points for the war is, at this point, playing a genuinely obfuscatory role. George W. Bush has not picked cabinet officials and commanders who will cross him before Congress. This war, and its continuation, remain his initiative, and the media has to cease pretending that it's a more open and fluid process than it has ever been shown to be.

August 14, 2007 | Permalink


Hey, no fair, Gates can't be troubled with the details or the long-range consequences of his policies. Gates has been one of those over-hyping threats and manipulating intelligence for the last few decades.

And then there were Gates' intense 'Deep Thoughts' on our great success in Afghan War I:

In 1985, the CIA first notices "significant" numbers of "Arab nationals" coming to Pakistan to fight with the U.S.-backed Afghan mujahedeen in the anti-Soviet war. "Our mission was to push the Soviets out of Afghanistan. We expected a post-Soviet Afghanistan to be ugly, but never considered that it would become a haven for terrorists operating worldwide," Gates would write in his memoirs. He would be blunter with historian Halliday: "Frankly, we weren't concerned about what post-Soviet Afghanistan was going to look like."

Gosh, I guess "no one could have anticipated" that hiring, funding, arming, training, and protecting vast armies of terrorist Islamic fundamentalist drug running warlords would ever result in some sort of problem of any kind.

Posted by: El Cid | Aug 14, 2007 11:30:34 AM

The problem is that Democrats legitimize these folks. If I remember correctly Gates was quickly confirmed by the Senate with out much resistance. Also, not too long ago St. John McCain was adored by all the beltway Democrats. It took a serious effort by bloggers to force insider "progressives" to stop reflexive public adoration of McCain. What is interesting is that the Republicans will only make Heroes out people who have completely lost it like Lieberman. When will Democrats learn?

Posted by: jncam | Aug 14, 2007 11:51:14 AM

the media has to cease pretending


Posted by: Captain Goto | Aug 14, 2007 12:15:08 PM

Yeah, Rice and Gates will stand up to Cheney and the neocons and Bush will back their efforts to adopt realism about the middle east.

In their memoires, 10 years from now.

Posted by: JimPortlandOR | Aug 14, 2007 12:19:43 PM

Ezra, you don't give any argument or evidence for your take on Gates other than a general view that the President doesn't appoint people who will disagree with him in front of Congress, which really isn't at issue. The article says he is a pivotal figure in the debate over Iraq, which seems true enough. Certainly his predecessor was a pivotal figure, without whom we might not have even been in Iraq. If you're going to fault "the media" for thinking Gates will be pivotal too, give some evidence.

Posted by: Sanpete | Aug 14, 2007 4:29:06 PM

Wrong, Sanpete. The view is that Bush doesn't promote people who will disagree with him on anything other that 'tastes great! - less filling!'. Or that Cheney won't allow opposition to his power.

In addition, it's pretty clear now that (a) the power is very tightlye held in this administration, which implies that Gates is a figurehead and (b) honest, reality-oriented people (for upper-level gov't levels of 'honest') have an unusually hard time in this administration. Bush doesn't care about reality; Cheney likes that view.

Posted by: Barry | Aug 15, 2007 10:23:38 AM

Barry, repeating the received view of Bush among those who oppose him isn't the same thing as evidence. It's widely reported that there have been disagreements at the top level over Iraq all along, and that the Cheney wing is in decline. I see no evidence that Gates won't be influential, just as Rumsfeld was.

Posted by: Sanpete | Aug 15, 2007 12:09:43 PM

Right on, Sanpete.

But, then again, it was also "widely reported" that Saddam Hussein had WMDs, wasn't it?

It was also "widely reported" that Al Gore claimed he invented the internet.

It was also "widely reported" that John Kerry's service in Viet Nam was suspect.

It was also "widely reported" that the votes were recounted several times in Florida.

It was also "widely reported" that Scooter Libby didn't do anything wrong because no one was ever charged with outing Valerie Plame.

It was also "widely reported" that Saddam Hussein was connected to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.

It was also "widely reported" that George Bush would govern from the center because he had to.


Come to think of it, how about you provide evidence, aside from the "seeming" accuracy of media reports about Gates, that press reports have generally been accurate when it comes to either describing previous actions of or predicting the future behavior of Bush and his appointees?

And just a reminder -- reports that are written by the cocktail-party-addled knuckle-heads in our national press corps and based on administration sources with a vested interest in obscuring the facts aren't actually evidence. They're just so much spin and hearsay.

Where, instead, is the evidence of public words and deeds that suggest we should be anything other than highly skeptical of the latest MSM press accounts of Gates' ability to be a pivotal, independent voice with influence over this administration's Iraq policy in any way, shape or form?

What, besides the ever-escalating body count, has changed since his appointment?

What has he pledged to do that is, in any way, different from the current policy?

Aside from a few rare instances of apparent candor in front of Congress and the press, what has he said or done that hasn't simply re-iterated and re-inforced administration policy, just as Rumsfeld did?


Posted by: Chris | Aug 16, 2007 10:28:18 PM

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