Immediately following September 11, many liberals reflexively and preemptively accused those on the right of questioning their patriotism, before anyone had even had a chance to do so. For a honeymoon period of about six months, as President Bush’s poll numbers skyrocketed in response to his successful handling of the aftermath of the attacks, most liberals held their tongues.
As those poll numbers eroded as a result of difficult and sometimes unpopular decisions on Afghanistan and particularly Iraq, opponents of the President became more vocal in their criticism. When public opinion turned against the President and the mission in Iraq, many liberals abandoned all restraint in their criticism, accusing the President and supporters of the mission in Iraq of being chicken hawks, murderers and human rights abusers, among other things.
Over the summer some good news has been trickling out of Iraq regarding the progress being made as a result of the surge counteroffensive. The leadership of General David Petraeus has been praised by many, as have the positive changes that have been made through his approach to the mission in Iraq.
Instead of the news of progress being celebrated, or even acknowledged, many of those opposed to the war have attempted to suppress that news or to deny it. While there is still news of violence to be reported from Iraq, it is no longer possible to deny the positive developments being reported from the region and still retain any credibility. Many opposed to the war, a mob of sorts, has risen up from the left to attack anyone who would claim even a modest improvement in the situation in Iraq.
Last month, Michael O’Hanlon and Kenneth Pollack, who have in the past been critical of the President’s handling of the mission in Iraq, wrote an opinion piece in the New York Times in which they stated, “Here is the most important thing Americans need to understand: We are finally getting somewhere in Iraq, at least in military terms. As two analysts who have harshly criticized the Bush administration's miserable handling of Iraq, we were surprised by the gains we saw and the potential to produce not necessarily 'victory' but a sustainable stability that both we and the Iraqis could live with....Today, morale is high. The soldiers and marines told us they feel that they now have a superb commander in Gen. David Petraeus; they are confident in his strategy, they see real results, and they feel now they have the numbers needed to make a real difference.”
The reaction to the O’Hanlon and Pollack piece from liberal bloggers was fierce. It is healthy to question opposing opinions, but many on the left did not seem interested in giving the claims of O’Hanlon and Pollack any serious consideration whatsoever.
A fellow blogger at Wizbang said of the reaction, “Forgetting for a moment the value of the assessment by the two authors, the value of the piece as a way of outing defeatist liberals remains unrivaled. The liberals in this country are so deranged that good news in Iraq is now considered bad news. Rather than being pleased that we might be making progress and hopeful for American success, the liberals in this country are actively -and near openly- hoping for defeat. But don't question their patriotism. They support the troops.”
Another example of those on the left being in denial and going into attack mode upon hearing any good news from Iraq, came this week in response to an op-ed from liberal Democrat Congressman Brian Baird.
Baird wrote, “As a Democrat who voted against the war from the outset and who has been frankly critical of the administration and the post-invasion strategy, I am convinced by the evidence that the situation has at long last begun to change substantially for the better. I believe Iraq could have a positive future. Our diplomatic and military leaders in Iraq, their current strategy, and most importantly, our troops and the Iraqi people themselves, deserve our continued support and more time to succeed…Progress is being made and there is real reason for hope. It would be a tragic waste and lasting strategic blunder to let the hard-fought and important gains slip away, leaving chaos behind to haunt us and our allies for many years to come.”
In response to his op-ed, instead of being questioned about the reasons that led to his about face, some constituents verbally assaulted Baird. In a recent townhall meeting in Van Couver. Oregonlive reported, “For more than three hours Monday night, Rep. Brian Baird was verbally flogged by hundreds of his constituents for no longer supporting the quick withdrawal of troops from Iraq…At several points, he pleaded with the crowd to let him finish his explanation. One woman told him the blood of the troops was now on his hands, and several said he was violating the wishes of his constituents. ‘We don’t care what your convictions are,’ said Jan Lustig of Vancouver. ‘You are here to represent us.’”
I don’t know what the September report from General Petraeus will say, but it is already being attacked on liberal blogs and elsewhere in the media. One recent criticism was that the White House was going to write the report, not Petraeus. Even though Public Law 110-28 specifies that "the President, having consulted with the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Defense, the Commander, Multi-National Forces-Iraq, the United States Ambassador to Iraq, and the Commander of U.S. Central Command, will prepare the report and submit the report to Congress," I expect that criticism, and many others, will continue.
If the report contains any reference to progress or any glimmer of hope for the mission in Iraq, expect it to be attacked viciously by those on the anti-war Left. Good news in Iraq is bad news for those opposed to the war and there will be an all-out effort to deny or diminish any news that does not support their demands for immediate withdrawal and no consideration will be made to the consequences of ignoring the latest reports from the region. Can I question their patriotism yet?