By Brigitte L. Nacos
If there was the chance for a congressional “coalition of the unwilling” against the Iraq policy, it has passed. Score one for the big White House spin machine that has sold the “staying the course” policy and the success story of the troop surge—finally even to Democrats in Congress who won last fall majorities in both congressional chambers because Americans lost confidence in the Iraq leg of the so-called war on terrorism. Now the Democratic leadership seeks reportedly an Iraq compromise with Republicans by demanding nothing and changing nothing—except perhaps the request to withdraw a few thousand U.S. troops by the end of the year or early next year. Such a compromise could be accommodated even by the staunchest war hawks since the military is so extended in Iraq that tiny withdrawals are at any time likely for rotation purposes. Why the lack of courage on the part of the Democratic Party’s leaders in the Congress? They were flattened by a pro-Iraq war PR-steamroller that originated in the White House and sold the successes of the “surge” to so-called experts and the fourth estate.
Recently, the White House spin machine intensified its drum beat to draw attention to Monday’s non-event on Capitol Hill, where General David Petraeus and United States Ambassador Ryan Crocker will report on the success of the troop “surge” in Iraq and embrace the continuation of the president’s “staying the course” marching order—give or take the promise to bring a few thousand troops home thanks to the success of the troop build-up. From the time the “surge” and its alleged successes were sold by the White House, it was done in tandem with the miracle general in Baghdad. As a Washington Post team reports, the White House PR-operation “hard-wired into Petraeus's shop.”
Moreover, presidential adviser Ed Gillespie “organized daily conference calls at 7:45 a.m. and again late in the afternoon between the White House, the Pentagon, the State Department, and the U.S. Embassy and military in Baghdad to map out ways of selling the surge. From the start of the Bush plan, the White House communications office had been blitzing an e-mail list of as many as 5,000 journalists, lawmakers, lobbyists, conservative bloggers, military groups and others with talking points or rebuttals of criticism.”
Before the much publicized delivery of the Petraeus report, President Bush himself contributed a wonderful photo opportunity during his “surprise” stop at a well protected U.S. military compound in Anbar province on his way to. When asked later by Australian Deputy Prime Minister Mark Vaile, "How was it in Baghdad?" Bush assured him according to the Sydney Morning Herald, "We're kicking ass.” Had Vaile asked Mr. Bush about the situation in the U.S. Congress, the president’s answer would have made more sense. The big pro-Iraq war spin machine kicked the Democrats so much..., well, into line—even before they themselves heard from General Petraeus—that they are now looking for a compromise which, according to the New York Times, “would still order the administration to begin pulling at least some combat troops out of Iraq, probably by the end of the year.” Some comprise.