Thursday, June 30, 2005

... are winning. Freedom and democracy are on the march. We are winning. Freedom and demo...

The Washington Post has a story today saying that the White House plan to sustain public support of the Iraq war focuses not on what’s actually happening in Iraq, but upon convincing the American public that we’re winning there:

The studies consulted by the White House show that in the long run public support for war is "mostly linked to whether you think you can prevail," [Dan Bartlett] added, which is one reason it is important for Bush to explain "why he thinks it's working and why he thinks it'll win."

In other words, it’s a rhetorical rather than a military or political strategy. Which is not, well, strategic, really. This approach is not limited to Iraq. It has been the Bush MO for a long time in campaigns, in fights to pass legislation, etc., a bully-boy political tactic: Act like you’re winning no matter what. Then the perception may become the reality. Rove took Bush to campaign California the week before election day 2000 to try to create the perception he was comfortably ahead. When this works, Bush looks like a master. When it doesn't, Bush looks the fool.

But a war doesn't easily lend itself to such callow political tactics. The White House approach appears to be based on faith that left as they are, things will not go totally to hell in Iraq – not a concerted attempt to actually prevent things from going to hell. Ed Kilgore elaborates on this point:

It's troublesome to learn that the White House thinks presidential spin on Iraq is more important to public support than the actual facts on the ground. All the "resolve" in the world won't help Bush if the insurgency cannot be quelled, and if the Iraqis cannot achieve a political settlement that will make it possible for a stable government to function.