One of the top news story back in August of 2007 was Karl Rove's resignationfrom the White House staff. At the time Rove predicted Republican fortunes would improve by the 2008 elections because American fortunes in Iraq would have improved by then. He was right about the American fortunes but wrong about Republican fortunes. Back in 2007, in the context of Rove's resignation, I predicted that John Sununu would lose his Senate seat.
Afterthought: Having said that, even if General Petraeus reduces the violence in Iraq to zero over the coming months, I anticipate that our junior Senator from New Hampshire, John Sununu, will go down in defeat in 2008. He's been avoiding the topic of war and it will cost him.
Sad to say I was right. Though they didn't seem to know it at the time, and perhaps still don't, Republican fortunes were tied to George Bush and the war in Iraq. Trying to change the subject was not going to work. It is true there were other factors as well. The current economic crisis was beyond Republican control. And, although the President's approval rating was extremely low, it was something that Republicans might have been able influence had they stood with him.
During the summer of 2006 when Karl Rove spoke to New Hampshire Republicans in Manchester, he urged candidates not to avoid the Iraq war as a campaign issue. He said that Republicans had no reason to be ashamed to stand up for the war, that it was the Democrats who should be under fire for choosing to "cut and run." As it turned out, Republican candidates opted to distance themselves from George W. Bush, instead. It didn't work. Republicans suffered huge losses anyway.
I'd say those losses suffered in 2006 carried over into 2008. Decisions to avoid talking about Iraq in 2006 allowed the political left to dominate the discussion and define the war issue on their terms. This was driven home in the presidential debate when John McCain attacked Barack Obama's poor judgment by pointing out that had we followed Obama's advice on the troop surge we would have lost the war in Iraq. Obama brushed it aside, saying the bigger mistake was to invade Iraq in the first place. McCain did not reply. End of discussion.
Success in Iraq is vital to our national security, yet it dropped off the radar for the general election. When it did arise as a campaign issue it was dismissed as a mistake. Just as in 2006 when Republicans chose not to back their president and make the case for the war, John McCain chose not to dispute Obama's assessment during the debates. Iraq should have been a winning issue. But from 2006 on, the Republicans had decided that it was pointless to argue how we got to where we are in Iraq, and instead, to focus on what we hope to leave behind. It was a refusal to back George Bush, and it was a huge mistake.
Republicans abandoned the field to our leftist media. The result has been a relentless campaign under way in a mainstream press reinforced by "foundation journalists." Its objective is to discredit the war with the purpose of discrediting Republicans. That it is an ongoing campaign can be seen by the date of a "news" article by the Center for Public Integrity entitled False Pretenses. Published in January 2008 it claims to report: "Following 9/11 President Bush and seven top officials of his administration waged a carefully orchestrated campaign of misinformation about the threat posed by Saddam Hussein's Iraq."
This is not news, it's not journalism, and it's not true. It's campaigning under the guise of journalism. It's a campaign that's been under way since 2003 when Democrats first decided that Iraq was an issue on which they could safely oppose a wartime president, and it's a campaign that has gathered steam since then, just when you might think it would be ending.
There are a raft of non-profit journalist organizations promoting the left, including the Center for Investigative Reporting, Mother Jones, and ProPublica. Launched in October of 2007 ProPublica is a non-profit news organization supposedly engaged in "journalism in the public interest." Here is a sampling of the kind of "public interest" journalists they hire.
"Jennifer LaFleurhas been the computer-assisted reporting (CAR) editor since 2003 for The Dallas Morning News, where she works on the investigative team. She has directed CAR at the San Jose Mercury News and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and was IRE’s first training director. She has won awards for her coverage of disability, legal and open government issues. Ms. LaFleur is the co-author of IRE’s Mapping for Stories: A Computer-Assisted Reporting Guide.
Jake Bernsteinhas worked at The Texas Observer, an investigative biweekly, for six years, and as its executive editor since 2004. Earlier in his career, he was a staff writer for the Pasadena [Texas] Citizen and then for the Miami New Times. His work has received numerous state-level and national journalism awards, and The Texas Observer, under his leadership, was named Best Political Magazine of 2005 by Utne Reader. Bernstein is co-author of Vice: Dick Cheney and The Hijacking of the American Presidency (2006).
Michael Grabell has been a reporter for the Dallas Morning News since 2003, covering police, courts and aviation safety and security. He was a member of the newspaper’s team covering Hurricane Katrina and led a six-month investigation into a bus fire that killed 23 nursing home patients fleeing Hurricane Rita. The investigation was a 2007 finalist for the Livingston Award for Young Journalists.
Paul Kielhas written for TPMmuckraker, Talking Points Memo’s investigative reporting blog, since 2006. TPM’s coverage of the firings of U.S. attorneys and politicization of the Department of Justice won a George Polk Award for legal reporting.
A.C. Thompsonhas been a reporter for 12 years, mostly in the San Francisco Bay area. In 2006-2007 he was an investigative reporter for SF Weekly. For eight years before that he worked in a similar role for the San Francisco Bay Guardian. His work has also appeared in a number of national magazines. His work received the George Polk Award for local reporting in 2005. Thompson is co-author of the book Torture Taxi: On the Trail of the CIA’s Rendition Flights.
Krista Kjellmanhas been an associate producer in the investigative unit of ABC News for almost three years. The Blotter, the investigative unit’s web page on which Ms. Kjellman played a key role, has, during this period, been honored with the Online News Association Award for investigative journalism, a George Foster Peabody Award and an IRE Award.
My emphasis above.
The campaign war chest for the anti-war message is growing, and today, just as in 2006, playing defense isn't going to carry the day for Republicans. Conservative and libertarian sources of foundation journalism are needed to get a message of liberty out on a continuous basis.
Over the next four years leftist foundation journalists will continue to inundate the American public with "investigative" and "analysis" stories that will conclude, George W. Bush was the worst president in American history. Republican fortunes and those of libertarian conservatives will suffer along with the President's reputation if those stories are not only rebutted but also attacked as the dishonest political campaigning that they are.