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Misunderspinning Again: The White House, Administration Can't Get It Right

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By John E. Carey
September 4, 2006

President Bush and his team pride themselves in a lot of things; not the least of which is communications.

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But the cold, hard facts would make the Bush team blush rather than beam with pride, we suspect. Jim Hoagland of the Washington Post this week wrote about, "Bush's subdued public demeanor in discussing Iraq."

Hoagland believes that the dire situation in Iraq is beginning to sink in on the president, even though just a few weeks ago there was a feeling just short of euphoria that troop reductions could come soon.

Last year, Gen. George W. Casey, the U.S. Commander in Baghdad said "significant'" troop withdrawals could take place soon after the Iraqi elections that December. Casey and other top commanders said at the time that they were prepared to recommend a drawdown of 30,000 soldiers by the spring, if the election and training of security forces went well.

Just last month, troops scheduled to come home to the United States had their tours of duty extended in Iraq.

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They were transferred to Baghdad to help put down the ethnic violence.

As of Friday, Sept. 1, 2006, at least 2,643 members of the U.S. military have died since the beginning of the Iraq war in March 2003.We reiterate these facts to show that it isn't easy, in war, to predict the future, read the tea leaves and tell the story straight.

That notwithstanding, there are many examples of the White House and the Bush Administration "misunderspinning" when the facts are relatively clear.

The White House has had problems communicating beyond those one might normally anticipate in war.

"The great irony of this administration is that its opponents credit it with being masterful at spin," wrote Mr. Jim Hoagland of the Washington Post on September 3, 2006.

"When it is in fact pathetic in managing its messages and its collective image. Whatever small credit Bush was gaining for becoming more realistic about Iraq was quickly wiped out by the controversy created by sharply partisan speeches of Dick Cheney and Don Rumsfeld last week in the latest example of a gang that can't spin straight."

Vice President Cheney and Mr. Rumsfeld were roundly criticized for referring to the terrorists as "fascists" and comparing the current struggle to the dark days before World War II.

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"The message water was later muddied even more by a belated reaching-out letter to Democrats from Rumsfeld and by a bleak Pentagon report on sectarian violence in Iraq," wrote Jim Hoagland.

Venerated UPI Editor at Large Arnaud de Borchgrave mused, "When Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld compared his Iraq war critics to the appeasers of Nazism in Europe in the mid-1930s, it would seem he got his 'isms' confused."

I experienced first hand how many in the media view the kind of talk Mr. Cheney and Mr. Rumsfeld engaged in during an election cycle.

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http://peace-and-freedom.blogspot.com/
John E. Carey is the former president of International Defense Consultants, Inc.

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