Let's take a moment to reconsider the avalanche of media pessimism that aimed to kick the can and postpone all this happiness into a nebulous future somewhere down the road. In November, CBS reporter Kimberly Dozier warned that "Some believe just talking about elections can get them killed." In December, CBS Sunday anchor Mika Brzezinski was positively despondent: "To the battle for Iraq now, which seems to only worsen as Election Day gets closer and closer," she said. "Some are now saying there is no way the election deadline can be met." Who were these "some," the anonymous stand-ins for every pessimistic media brain cramp?
The numerical predictions could turn out to be quite embarrassing. On "The Chris Matthews Show" in December, the perfectly named Katty Kay of the BBC predicted "five percent" turnout in Mosul. (Mosul's turnout, while it may end up being comparatively low, was one of the really joyous surprises.) In mid-January, CBS reporter David Hawkins lobbied for electoral delay: "Despite warnings that in some places voter turnout may be less than 10 percent ... Is there any discussion about delaying the vote?" NBC reporter Jim Maceda warned "only half" of Iraq's voters would turn out because "as the violence spreads, so does the panic. Election workers are under siege. Candidates are dropping out. An election some call historic, but the fear factor is taking its toll."
Even on Jan. 25, CBS's Dozier was back to insult Iraq as "an unlikely place for a free and fair election ... Now many Iraqis say they're under siege by an unwelcome, sometimes brutal occupier and trapped in a war between those foreign forces and terrorists." Could we have a more ridiculous example of moral equivalence? She then warned, "Election officials optimistically predict a 50 percent voter turnout."
Despite the powerful rebuke they've taken from those glorious election pictures, nobody should expect the media's brief episode of happy talk to last. They're too invested in the idea that Iraq just has to end up a fiasco. But everyone else should remember Sunday, Jan. 30 as a lasting rebuttal to the myopic zeal behind Bomb of the Day coverage. This vote showed that day after day, while the democracy-hating bombers were getting all the publicity, the Iraqi people and the emerging governing elite were quietly building a civil society, a dream that sensation-obsessed and pessimistic "news" crews haven't really wanted to admit could be possible.