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Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Behind Village Walls

by digby

The Villagers swat at phantoms.

Via TPM, I see that there's a new poll out proving that the media and political elites were right: all that distracting stuff about Move-On using the word "betray" in the same breath as a General really screwed the Democrats. People are now supporting the surge.


Most Americans continue to want troops to start coming home from Iraq, and most say the plan President Bush announced last week for troop reductions doesn't go far enough, according to a CBS News poll released Monday. . . .

Sixty-eight percent of Americans say that U.S. troop levels in Iraq should either be reduced or that all troops should be removed - similar numbers to those before Mr. Bush's speech.


The poll also found that despite optimistic assessments of the U.S. troop surge by Mr. Bush and Gen. David Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, Americans are unconvinced that the surge is working.

Only about one in three (31 percent) said the surge has made things in Iraq better, while more than half (51 percent) say it's had no impact. Eleven percent [11 percent] say it's made things worse.


Increased 6%
Kept same 21%
Reduced 39%
Remove all troops 29%

Pre-speech, 9/4-8/2007:

Increased 11%
Kept same 19%
Reduced 35%
Remove all troops 30%

The Bush administration rolled out their biggest guns, hid behind the General's salad and the troops' dead bodies, demanding that everyone listen to Petraeus's spin and obfuscation as if it were delivered directly from God himself and it didn't do a bit of good.

Then they did their patented shrieking like a bunch of little old ladies at the unseemliness of Move-On's horrible ad, hoping that the country was still listening and their blatant phony sanctimony would work on anyone but the media and political establishment Villagers. Apparently they still think --- just as they did 10 years ago when the right pulled this crap with the Lewinsky scandal --- that the American people are too dumb to see through the rich, decadent elites' faux outrage. The ad, after all, said what a large majority of the country already believed --- that The Man Called Petraeus was doing the loathed president's bidding. The days when the GOP could evoke the smoke of 9/11 and emotionally blackmail the country into buying their cheap counterfeit sentiment are over.

Glenn Greenwald caught a perfect example of the disengaged beltway hysteria in his (must read) post today:

As but one highly illustrative example, let us revel in the Triumph of Petraeus from the Chris Matthews Show last Wednesday night:

JERRY DELLA FEMINA, ADVERTISING EXECUTIVE: Well, they're doing a good job of it this week. Let me tell you, they couldn't find anyone better than Petraeus. I mean, you just can't beat a man in full uniform speaking to -- well, I'll give you Ollie North facing the Congress. You know, you stand up there, and he's wearing a uniform. And boy, you can't take a guy in uniform versus six overweight senators. . . .

I think the biggest mistake that was made was the anti -- the "Petraeus Betray us" that ran just before that. I mean, what a setup that was. Snow could get up and say, Gee, this is a hero. How could we treat this man this way?

So if I was -- you know, if this was a dirty tricks game, someone would say, Let's put an ad in making fun of this war hero, and then let's knock him down and show -- so it was a terrible mistake...


DELLA FEMINA: ... and it really set the week off on the wrong note for people who were against the surge. . . .

[DANA] MILBANK [THE WASHINGTON POST]: Bush had a terrible August down on the ranch and then has explosive Septembers. And I think he's won this battle already.


MILBANK: Petraeus --it's no accident he had a Latin name. It looked like he was the Roman general returning to the republic in his gold and purple toga, and they were celebrating him and slaying white bulls. They could not get enough of this man. And anybody's who's even critical of the war wouldn't dare criticize...


MILBANK: ... except in the most polite way, General Petraeus because then you appear to be criticizing the troops. I think it's game, set and match here.

Right. Except that normal American citizens who live outside the Village bubble knew before The Man Called Petraeus spoke that he would spin the war. And he did. Only in Republican establishment la-la land do people believe that generals are incapable of telling anything but the unvarnished truth. In fact, anybody who's ever read "Beetle Bailey" or watched "MASH" (much less read "Catch 22" or any of the other great war novels) has a healthy view of the military's fallibility. That's part of American culture too. This embarrassing affected reverence for the General is as believable as Bush in a skin-tight Chippendales jumpsuit.

Sure, the Republicans and the media constantly drool and slaver and wax on about manly virtue and heroism no matter what the situation. They live in their own Disney-world. The rest of us know that at this point, six years on from 9/11 and mired down in a useless quagmire that they're showing us a bad John Wayne movie circa 1958. It's mildly entertaining, but most of us don't mistake it for reality --- or relevance.

Bush succeeded in shoring up the Republicans for one more FU. (He probably could have done it a lot more cheaply --- the congressional Republicans are the most invertebrate bunch of jellyfish in American history and they'd ultimately go along with their Dear Leader if he suggested nuking Scotland.) But that's it. He failed to change the general public's thinking at all --- indeed, if the CBS poll is correct, they may have even moved a few people in the other direction. All the sturm and drang of the last week was purely an inside the beltway circle jerk.

Update: Arianna Huffington has a great piece up on just what a masturbatory exercise it all was.

Update II: I saw Chris Cilizza somnambulently spinning the same tired tune on MSNBC this morning about the new Move-On Rudy ad. He claimed that it was a mistake because it would help Rudy in the primary in Iowa --- as if Move-on was running the ad with the intention of trying to affect the GOP primary. (You could see that as he was saying it he suddenly understood that it didn't make sense and that he might not have fully grasped the play.) When asked if the ad was accurate, he admitted that it was, but insisted that it was a problem because Republicans hate Move On. He, like the entire beltway establishment (except for Bill Schneider, of all people)has no clue about what the real strategy is here.

Chris Cilizza's irrelevant analysis isn't important at all. What is important is this ad, which MSNBC obligingly showed from beginning to end.

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