Wednesday, September 10, 2003

But the actions of our enemies are rarely scorned by our media elite. Instead, they're reported as problems for, or mistakes by, the Bush White House.

The tone of newscasts in the weeks since the last unmissable big success -- killing Uday and Qusay, and even these successes were criticized -- has been largely gloom and doom, Vietnam and quagmire. Two nights before Bush spoke, Dan Rather was pounding Defense Secretary Rumsfeld, saying "rank-and-file Americans are asking 'are we into quicksand? Is this going to be another quagmire?'" Rumsfeld, for once, was far too neutral, saying "time will tell," before noting that we've been in Iraq for less than six months.

Dan Rather's "rank-and-file Americans" are asking these questions only because the media can't stop focusing on them. Rumsfeld should have dismissed the whole Vietnam analogy as ridiculous, because:

1. We lost 58,000 American soldiers in Vietnam. Our casualties in Iraq now aren't on the same planet as the losses in that war.

2. We didn't liberate Vietnam from communist dictatorship and then have trouble reorganizing it along peaceful and democratic lines. If we were in Month Six and still struggling to depose Saddam Hussein -- while losing thousands of lives in the process -- the comparison would be more realistic...

The only Vietnam analogy that works is the comparison in press coverage. As in Vietnam, the press is eager to discredit American military action, to discourage American support at home for military action, to disintegrate the noble cause of the fight, and to bury any victory under a tidal wave of gloom.

Last week, when he wasn't hammering Rumsfeld, Dan Rather was highlighting an interview with American-killing terrorists inside Iraq. They told Rather from scarf-covered faces that they hated Saddam, but now they hated Americans more. It's good and useful to know the enemy. What's so discouraging about Rather's treatment is that our sworn enemies are respectfully taken at their word and granted less cynicism about their motives than our own leaders in America.

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