The Dead-EnderSphere’s latest attempt to gin up another Dan Rather story out of nothing at all has apparently gone the way of such classics as the “fake” Schiavo memo. Of course, as Jim Henley points out, even had this been something other than unsubstantiated state propaganda, it’s still all about evasion:
But beyond that, what’s the point? Let’s imagine for a minute that the mosque burning story was exaggerated or fabricated. Does that mean that three thousand bodies a month aren’t turning up at Baghdad’s morgues these days? Does it mean that Mohammed of Iraq the Model didn’t spend the weekend barricading his block against rievers? Does it mean that no Sunnis are being killed by Sadrist death squads? Does that mean we should think more highly of Baby Sadr? Does it mean no Shia are being butchered by Salafist bravos?
Unless these fellows with suspect surnames in the newspapers are making it all up and Iraq is really quite swell, then impeaching this or that specific report or reporter is a trivial pursuit. It doesn’t change the structure and trends. It’s fun to pretend that “a goodly portion of our success or failure in Iraq has ultimately to do with how we react in terms of either lending our support or leveling our criticisms against the campaign.” Among other things, it’s very self-flattering. It allows the sedentary hawk to feel good about himself, to imagine that, just by feeling the proper emotion, “I’m fighting too!”
It’s also utter bullshit. The real constraint on success or failure is the US governmenet’s capacity to achieve its political objectives in Iraq itself. The audience that matters is one the deadenders neither understand nor even like much. (Michael Novak gets this exactly and completely backward.) It gets its news from papers we can’t read, television and radio broadcasts we never hear and couldn’t translate, phone calls to and from people we’ll never meet and the direct experience of things we can only pray never to find on our curbs of a morning. Every thesis that does not recognize the primacy of a local situation we can neither completely know nor even successfully imagine is mere narcissism, every attempt to pretend that touching up some detail obliterates the big picture is folly.