What if the 'surge' works?

A mostly political Weblog.
Feb. 2 2007 6:19 AM

What if the 'Surge' Works?

Are foes of Bush's plan taking a political risk?

(Continued from Page 3)

1) Would Gordon have been smacked down if he hadn't heretically supported the surge? Is the Times now like a leftish web site where Kos-like readers take down any discordant comments?

2) Does anyone think that just because Gordon is forbidden from voicing his views that he won't have those views? Isn't it better if they're out in the open, where readers can see and judge them? Calame and the Times censors are enforcing appearance over substance; and

3) Isn't it good for democracy if citizens hear the moral conclusions of highly experienced reporters like Gordon? It's one thing to report on what's happening in the surge. It's another to try to figure out its chances of success and whether the likely consequences are worth the likely cost. They're both important calculations. If Gordon's done both, don't you, as a citizen, want to hear both results of both before Congress votes on the issue? "Should we do the surge" is certainly about the first question you'd ask Gordon if you ran into him on the street. Do Times editors really think their readers can't handle an answer?

[Thanks to reader D.S.]4:57 P.M. link

Don't Cook Tonight ... : In 1969, as a senior in high school, I worked briefly as a delivery boy at the Beverly Hills franchise of Chicken Delight. We wore white dress shirts and bow ties with the word "Chicken" down one tassel and "Delight" down the other. Most famous client: Burt Bacharach! The boss was a grouchy/lovable character who--according to possibly apocryphal legend--would occasionally pick up the phone and, instead of answering "Chicken Delight, may I help you," say "Chicken Delight, fuck you!"... Anyway, one of my coworkers was a high school classmate, Paul Diamond, who (this being Beverly Hills) made a movie of the experience--The Chicken Chronicles. This "lost classic" receives a rare screening on Showtime in the coveted time slot of 6:30 A.M. Eastern Time, Thursday morning, Feb. 1.  Phil Silvers plays the boss. I remember brilliant social commentary during a chase scene through pretentious Beverly Hills back yards. The film also launched the career of Steve Guttenberg. ... 4:16 P.M.

Monday, January 29, 2007

How Is Chuck Hagel Brave? Why, exactly, is Sen. Chuck Hagel showing "courage" in conspicuously denouncing the Iraq War now that virtually the entire American establishment has reached that same conclusion--now that Hagel is virtually assured of getting hero treatment from Brian Williams and Tim Russert  and long favorable profiles in the newsweeklies? .

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OK, maybe Hagel's not so courageous. Maybe he's just right. Except that he chose, as the moment to make his flamboyant speech, not the vote on the imprudent war itself--he voted for it--but a vote to withdraw support for a last-ditch surge strategy that even the NYT's estimable, on-the-scene pessimist Sabrina Tavernese thinks "may have a chance to work."   Was this the right time--it certainly wasn't the courageous time--for a speech like Hagel's? Was he serving the nation or himself?

Saying "the war was wrong but the surge is worth a try"--that would be courageous. There's no ready-made constituency eager to cheer a pol who says that.

Bucking your party to actively fight against the war when it would have made a difference--that would have been courageous.**

Hagel hasn't done either of those things. Instead, he let loose at the precise moment when letting loose was least brave and least timely. Lest the MSM miss the point, his eruption took the form, not of arguing that his Republican colleagues were wrong, but of denouncing them for, in effect, being cowards, unlike you-know-who:

If you wanted a safe job, go sell shoes. ... Don't hide anymore; none of us.

Never mind that the anti-surge resolution Hagel has cosponsored is all abouthiding. It has no binding effect. But it does provide Senators who supported the war a convenient bit of late-inning skepticism they can point to when trying to save their skins.

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