Nice Democrat talking points on Chi Trib front page today. One has biggest billing:
Democrats return fire over Iraq: Officials seize on Pentagon report, respond to administration rhetoric, By Stephen J. Hedges, Washington Bureau:
In a wave of statements, Democratic Party leaders targeted Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld for casting the Iraq war as part of a broader war on terrorism.
"The Pentagon's new report today indicates that President Bush, Vice President Cheney and Secretary Rumsfeld's speeches are increasingly disconnected from the facts on the ground in Iraq," Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said in a statement.
It’s a neat summary of what Dingy Harry and friends want us to hear. There’s Rahm Emmanuel, our machine-tooled congressperson, on Rumsfeld: House Democrats are considering staging a no-confidence vote, reports Hedges. There’s Howlin’ Howard Dean: "You can't trust Republicans to defend America." Way down in the story, there’s this about the political nature of the criticisms:
The charges and counter-charges over Iraq have more to do with political than military strategy. With the Nov. 7 elections more than two months away and poll numbers suggesting Democrats could overturn the GOP majority in the House, the role of U.S. troops overseas has become a primary focus.
And wayyy down, at the end, in fact, there’s this that should have gone much higher up, even in the lede, if in shortened form:
Rumsfeld spokesman Eric Ruff said there was nothing political in the defense secretary's comments.
"He was not accusing anybody of being soft on terrorism," Ruff said. "What he's saying is that terrorist networks pose a threat to the United States and the free world. The questions he's raising are questions that all Americans ought to be addressing. He linked that to those very clear lessons in history, and history tells us that you just can't ignore a problem."
Late Friday, Rumsfeld wrote top Democrats in Congress saying his recent remarks in Salt Lake City were misrepresented by the media, The Associated Press reported. Rumsfeld said he was "concerned" with the reaction of Democrats.
"I know you agree that with America under attack and U.S. troops in the field, our national debate on this should be constructive," he wrote.
Elsewhere, several letters are quite good. “Measured perspective,” from G.R. Paterson in Wilmette, puts William Neikirk on notice about his near-hysterical reaction to Abu Ghraib and other GI abuses. Neikirk concedes good reasons why the American public is not in full cry about them, says Paterson:
Most Americans recognize that these are not the actions of the typical GI, that they are not a reflection of American policy, that every war produces its atrocity stories, and that the unrelenting stresses placed on our troops can drive some over the edge.
But he misses
what is perhaps the biggest reason to take a measured perspective on these sad events, and that is the astonishing atrocities that Iraqis themselves are committing against their fellow countrymen every single day. While our troops risk their lives to enforce order, each day brings a new report of 30 or 50 or 75 ordinary Iraqis blown up or gunned down at a market, a mosque, or a roadside by their fellow Iraqis (with some help from Iranians and Syrians, to be sure). As the victims of these Iraqi mass murders mount from the hundreds to the thousands, does it really make sense to treat alleged GI abuses of a handful as the bigger story?
Excellent point here. It’s the compared-to-what? issue. Neikirk wrote (last Sunday) in the Perspective section, but he could use some. His
fretting that the public hasn't used the charges against a few troops as a reason to rise in massive outrage against our entire military seems more than a little unbalanced,
Another good letter, “Lack of leadership,” from Neil Gaffney in the city, notes:
It is easy to overlook the critical roadblock preventing reconstruction of many areas of New Orleans: the total lack of a city reconstruction plan now one year on. Easier to point at the empty homes and shattered neighborhoods and point the finger at the federal government.