Surprise: Old media downplay Zarqawi's death

David Limbaugh

6/9/2006 12:05:00 AM - David Limbaugh

Before you assume liberals are acting in good faith in casually dismissing the death of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi as "symbolic," don't forget their endless carping about our failure to capture Osama bin Laden.

Zarqawi, Al Qaeda's lead commander in Iraq, was arguably more important to the terrorist movement these days than Osama, since the terrorists' primary focus has been on Iraq, pouring the lion's share of their energies and resources into preventing the Iraqi people from succeeding in their quest for liberty and constitutional self-rule.

These perennial critics aren't the least bit sincere. Before Saddam was captured they complained of our failure to bring him to justice. When he was captured, they downplayed the event.

Liberal bloggers are unnerved, realizing it will be difficult to spin Zarqawi's death to deny Bush and the American military credit. If they truly supported the troops, they wouldn't be investing one second strategizing over how to control damage to their miserable cause, but rejoicing in this American military triumph. But don't be too hard on these amateurs. They haven't been spinning as long as their mentors in the Old Media. Maybe they should take notes and learn some lessons.

As if to show the upstart bloggers how it's done, the Old Media were quick to issue disclaimers so that the great unwashed would not read too much into this event, as if we red-state, reality-challenged militarists might be operating under the misapprehension that Islamofascists are motivated to kill infidels solely because of their hero worship of a particular leader.

Newsbusters.org provides a number of examples of the media's lukewarm reception of the news. NPR's website hastened to caution that Zarqawi's death was symbolic and "may change little about the situation on the ground." Perhaps, but Zarqawi himself will not be orchestrating or performing any more beheadings or other murders, which will have more than symbolic significance to those Zarqawi would have murdered.

ABC's Diane Sawyer asked former White House adviser and Bush critic-at-large Richard Clarke whether Iraq was any safer and the war would end any sooner after Zarqawi's death. A glum Clarke said, "Well, unfortunately, the answer is no." He then said Zarqawi only commanded a few hundred people out of tens of thousands involved in the insurgency. Huh? Were the libs saying that before he was killed?

NBC's Tim Russert said the death would probably not "change things on the ground," noting that "foreign fighters are not the only threat that confront Iraq. There is this sectarian violence between the Sunnis and the Shiites, and that is separate above the killing of Zarqawi we're witnessing today."

Yes, Tim, but would it be too painful for you to acknowledge that one of Zarqawi's primary missions was to foment that sectarian violence? Indeed, the Washington Post just reported that, "The stated aim of Zarqawi, 39, in addition to ousting foreign forces from Iraq, was to foment bloody sectarian strife between his fellow Sunni Muslims and members of Iraq's Shiite majority … "

If Zarqawi's death doesn't impress you guys, how about the "treasure trove" of information about terror operations in Iraq that we acquired in 17 raids in and near Baghdad following the attack on Zarqawi? Is that symbolic?

How about the information that led to the attack, which U.S. Army Major Gen. William B. Caldwell IV said was acquired from within Zarqawi's network. Is that symbolic? Of course not, but the not-so-mainstream reporters found another angle from which to attack it. At today's White House press briefing, one reporter suggested that since Zarqawi was fingered by another terrorist, perhaps he wanted "to see Zarqawi dead so that [he] could move into the created vacuum." And they call us reality-challenged!

Similarly disappointing, though not surprising, was the reaction of not-very-hawkish-at-all Congressman John Murtha, D-Pa., whose destructive statements we have no right to challenge because of his military record. (See Ann Coulter's brand-new best seller, "Godless" on the infallibility and incontestability of certain liberal mouthpieces.)

Murtha admitted Zarqawi's killing was significant, but refused to concede to CNN's Carol Lin that it wouldn't have occurred if U.S. troops hadn't been on the ground in Iraq. He also used the occasion to complain about the monetary cost of our continued presence in Iraq and reiterated his claim that Iraq was engaged in a civil war of which Al Qaeda was only a small part. "I think they'll settle this themselves, just like we settled our civil war ourselves. … We've diverted ourselves from the real war on terrorism to the war in Iraq."

The libs can spin it any way they want to, but this was a big, big day for our side.