Monday, November 14, 2005

Re: Something to Think About

Nick, you bring up some interesting points upon reflection of the American public’s intestinal fortitude in these rocky modern times. However, I’m more optimistic in my view of what our country can handle. I don’t think what we are witnessing in the falloff of public support for the war in Iraq is a failure of the American people to “handle it,” so to speak. Ours is a nation made of people who possess a moral strength and character unlike any ever seen in history, and that strength has been demonstrated time and again under circumstances that have driven lesser societies into the ground.

No, if there can be one agent at fault for the perception, whether real or imagined, that we are spinning our wheels in Iraq, it is the media. Forgive me for being predictable and throwing another shot to the jaw of the Fourth Estate, but I believe that the reporting of this war is what is driving people’s opinions against it. Every story that comes out of Iraq, even if it starts off with good news, like the recent constitutional elections, generally ends with a “by the way” epilogue that details how many more Americans were killed in the desert today. Pundits from the left, the midleft, and the far left, scream louder than those of us with common sense, and have dominated the war argument for longer than I care to contemplate. And in this era of split-second soundbites, instant replays, and 500-channel televisions that fire off a relentless imagery barrage to anyone and everyone, those who scream loudest tend to get the most notice.

Which brings me to another point. The Bush administration does not have the best communications apparatus out there. With the war in Iraq being a central pivot point to the wider war against radical Islamic fundamentalism, you’d think that the president and his team could do a more consistent and credible job of communicating the reality of what is going on, rather than playing defense. Of course, the job also falls upon those of us who believe that America is doing the right thing to communicate the message as best we can. Even if it is just to one other person at a cocktail party.

Fundamentally, the America of today is not much different than the America that whole-heartedly supported the Normandy invasion or the soldiers who stormed Iwo Jima and Guadalcanal, two Pacific battles of World War II that made the American casualties sustained on D-Day look like a bad flu season. But at that time the message that the newsreels sent was broadcast with a mind toward victory. Now, the message is broadcast with a completely different and clearly less principled motive: if it bleeds, it leads.

If the majority of Americans that we are being told no longer support the war truly knew the progress that is being made in Iraq, if they could see through that prism of agenda-driven TV stars that purport to be journalists, then you would see attitudes change here at home very quickly. What needs to happen is that we need to seize control of the message. The truth, as always, is there. It just needs to be told.

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