Sunday, September 09, 2007

The St. Petersburg Times braces for Petraeus

No, they're not expecting a late-season hurricane.

Seeing word that the New York Times is disparaging progress in Iraq leading up to General David Petraeus' address to Congress and various committees thereof, I decided to see to what extent I would be "In the Know" thanks to the St. Petersburg Times.

The Sunday story, authored by Wes Allison, avoids any direct assessment of ground conditions in Iraq. Instead, Allison paints the situation in terms of the political debate. Republicans will argue for continuing the surge, rolling the dice despite the unpopularity of the effort, while the Democrats will soften their efforts to set a withdrawal timetable.

The story itself seems political.

Allison throws in some cues to tip off the anti-war crowd that he doesn't necessarily buy the idea that the surge is working--though he does report the reversal of Democrat Brian Baird, who now favors continuing the surge. Positives in terms of security, as well as the negatives in terms of Iraqi politics, are not delivered as objective news, but in terms of the claims of the factions in Washington.

I do give Allison some credit, however. I don't see any unmistakable sign that he dismisses the conservative side of the debate as inherently untenable.

As-is, the story seems crafted to leave unchallenged the thinking of readers regarding the actual situation in Iraq. More importantly, it doesn't touch at all on the consequences for failure in Iraq. That's a bit strange, considering it's the answer to the question Allison chooses to provide the introduction to his story:

Who knew that opposing an unpopular war could be so difficult?
(St. Petersburg Times, read the rest for yourself)
I could have told him that way back in November. If you're a congressional Democrat, you need a plan that doesn't sound stupid, and one that leaves you relatively free of blame if a genocide results in Iraq.

The Democrats have no plan. They're sticking with what got them elected: Criticize Republicans for whatever goes wrong.

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