Talking about "perceived power" conveniently allows the NYT to avoid reporting whether the actual events in Basra conform to its description of "Iraqis[']" perceptions. (The one Iraqi man on the street who is quoted says something a bit different: "I think Maliki and America are more powerful than [the Mahdi Army], but Maliki alone would be smashed by it." He is the first and last "ordinary citizen" in the story.)
The rest of the piece: "Senior Iraqi officials" see the rallying behind Maliki as "turning point" that could bring political reconciliation. "But for many Iraqis ... Mr. Maliki has cemented his reputation as a tool of the Americans." Nobody is quoted from this "many" except a Sadrist official. ... An NGO type says that the Sadrists are not going to disband, but that they are facing a dilemma because not disbanding might cost them the right to participate in elections. ... A parliamentarian says that disarming the Sadrists is "not an easy job." ... The Times opines that a "truer gauge of the two sides' real power" may come Wednesday, "when Mr. Sadr has called for a million of his followers to march through the streets of Baghdad." (He has now called the march off.)
Then there is the final ominous kicker:
One unexpected bonus for Mr. Maliki is that the Sadrists appear to have been dismayed by the political establishment's decision, at least in public, to back him.
"We were astonished at the political blocs' stance in supporting Maliki's government," said Hassan al-Rubaie, a Sadrist lawmaker.
Even the Sadrists are dismayed by Maliki's breadth of support. Another sign of instability! But of course it's "unexpected." (Really? By Maliki?)
kf Nut Graf: The Iraqi government may be on the verge of collapse, or not, but the NYT's piece doesn't come close to substantiating increased concerns about its stabiity. It's more like the opposite.
I'm not saying that the Times editors are predictable anti-war, anti-Bush types who reflexively leaped to a pessimistic extrapolation from the muddled Basra fighting and imposed that unsupported conclusion on their reporters. But they definitely succeeded in producing the piece that predictable anti-war types would have generated given no more information than the news that Maliki had failed to take all of Basra. Arianna Huffington could have written it from her sofa after coming back from a party. Except it would probably be more convincing. ... 10:44 P.M.
Wednesday, April 9, 2008
Meet 'Johm McCain": Is McCain's first ad really as bad as blogger "Richelieu" says. No. It's worse! The problem is a) the voice-over voice, simultaneously pompous, condescending and saccharine, almost a parody of an announcer's voice. Think "Real Men of Genius." b) The disjointed rhythm of the script, with its fake-profound get-up-and-get-a-beer questions substituting for arguments ("What must a President believe about us. About America? That she is worth protecting? ...") in which the insertion of a groaning cliche ("Has he walked the walk?") seems almost like a bit of down-to-earth relief,** all building to a semi-anticlimactic video of a captured McCain lying in a North Vietnamese bed and reciting his name and serial number. ...
It's almost as if McCain's ad man secretly likes Obama. Correction: Not secretly!