Thursday, August 25, 2005

Debate with obstinancy

This morning's Washington Times has an op-ed from Terry Michael, director of the Washington Center for Politics & Journalism. (He's also a former Democratic National Committee press secretary and teaches journalism at George Washington University.) Reading it reminds me of my wife's grandfather whom I had the honor of knowing well enough that he felt completely comfortable speaking his mind around me. For the record, that didn't take much, but you get the idea. Old Pappap had his ideas pretty well set and, for the most part, that was OK since they were his opinions. On occassion, however...

Like the time he was telling me about his 1st plane trip and he got to fly on what was then a brand-new Boeing 767. The 767 is a large plane, a true widebody. She's big, heavy, and she's got long legs for those coast-to-coast and international flights. Pappap said he was amazed to find out, as they came in for a landing, that those planes could hover. "Hover?" I said. After making sure that he did, indeed, mean hover (as in: hold a relatively static position in mid-air), I assured him that they could not. At the time, I was working in the airline industry and aviation in general fascinated me. I am quite familiar with the forces of flight and I can assure all of you that barring an attempted flight into the teeth of the winds put off by a category 5 hurricane, the 767 cannot hover.

Pappap was having none of that. He absolutely refused to accept that the plane he was flying on didn't hover. Now, I know what he was talking about. On landing, sometimes a pilot will throttle back pretty hard and the plane will decelerate quickly with all the flaps and slats hanging out. With vision and balance issues as bad as Pappap's were, it's not hard to see where he'd think the plane had stopped cold in the middle of the sky. While I understand his confusion, the fact of the matter is that his plane did not come to such a stop and hover. There was no telling him any of that. He'd formed an opinion and nothing was going to change it.

That's exactly the feeling I have in reading Michael's op-ed this morning. Now, perhaps he's not a blog reader. That's the only way I can find justification for his allegation that the media is working hand-in-glove with the administration to deny a voice to anyone who suggests we should just get out of Iraq now. Like when Pappap adamantly stated to me that his plane had gone into a hover, the absurdity of this allegation defies an immediate response. The endless reporting of Ted Kennedy and his comrades in the Senate and the incessant coverage of anyone who has something bad to say about President Bush over his prosecution of this war should be so extremely well-known to anyone even remotely paying attention to the news it's hard to credit any notion other than that Micheal is purposely ignoring the facts. I'm glad to see that he doesn't consider the freak show going on down in Crawford as "debate" but he misses the point that what he's seeing is considered as reasonably advancing your position by quite a bit of the loudest of the Left. Still, in his words:

::::::::In fact, the Crawford protest is the opposite of reasoned debate; it's a sideshow of verbal combatants yelling past each other. For average citizens to be presented with meaningful alternatives to the current war policy, we must have legitimate, fully engaged discourse, with intelligent voices coming to competing conclusions. ::::::::

"Meaningful alternatives." He's already spoken about the media's complicity in silencing people who purport that cutting and running is a "meaningful alternative" to the current policy, so I'm concluding that's the alternative he's talking about. He goes on to lament how the Democrats in Congress are also complicit with the administration in performing "Amish-style shunning of those who advocate immediately ending the war." He talks about how such people are painted with the "worst" label one can apply in DC: "not serious." Well, what else would he have it called when someone makes a suggestion that can't be taken... well... seriously? Micheal clearly doesn't consider it a rational possibility that anyone would take that stance, so it must be a conspiracy. He goes on:

::::::::But how can mainstream journalism now be excused for quarantining stop-it-now voices from outside official Washington, after justification for the war has shifted from: 1) eliminating weapons of mass destruction, which didn't exist; 2) getting rid of a brutal dictator, who was a secularist thug, not an associate of Osama bin Laden; 3) spreading democracy, in a Hatfield-McCoy style tribal culture, heavily influenced by politicized religious fanatics whose world view never made it past the 8th century, let alone the Enlightenment, and who want theocracy, not liberty; 4) fighting Islamic terrorists, who need the United States in Iraq, not out, as their bete noir for recruiting more terrorists.::::::::

We've gone over this. And over. And over. It's a wonderful little halucination people like Micheal have built for themselves, that the reasons for the war have shifted like the desert sands. It's just not true, but his recitation here shows some fascinating ignorance of the facts as well as arrogant condescension toward the Iraqi people as a whole. He repeats the mantra that Al Qaeda and Iraq were completely disconnected when we know for a fact they were not. He leans on the smokescreen that Saddam wasn't involved in 9/11 - a claim the President never made once - to generalize that there was no connection at all. The Senate Commission investigating the actions in Iraq have made no such conclusion and there has been ample evidence that Saddam's government absolutely hopped in bed with terrorist organizations, including Al Qaeda. The current investigation into the data from the Army's Able Danger program shows that the meeting in Prague between Mohammed Atta and members of the Iraqi intelligence service might have occured after all. I'm holding off judgement on that one but it's no longer even a slam-dunk that Iraq had no involvement in 9/11, either. I've gone over the WMD issue before. It's been gone over so often now (as well as the whole "Bush lied' myth) that anyone implying the claim - which he's doing in point 1, there - can't be considered serious. (Couldn't resist.)

Skip over point 3, we'll come back to that one. Again we have a leftist claiming that terrorism is being created as a result of fighting it. He's telling us that if only the US were out of Iraq, there'd be no terrorists wanting to kill Americans at all. So how to explain 9/11? Oh, and the USS Cole. Oh, and the African embassies. Oh, and the World Trade Center in 1993. The US wasn't in Iraq at the time, so how, how, how could there have possibly been terrorists recruited? Hmmm. Here's that ignorance of the facts I was talking about. Willful ignorance? Perhaps.

Remember point 3, right? Have a good look, folks. You don't find condescending, racist attitudes espoused by the Left quite so openly every day. Translation: The Iraq invasion was a mistake and we should pull out immediately because those Arabic hillbilly's just aren't advanced enough to understand democracy, poor backwards creatures that they are. I mean, it'd be like trying to make democracy work among the tribal warlords of Afghanistan, for crying out loud.

Oh. Wait.

Terry Micheal wants a debate but he brings nothing new to the table. Repeating the same tired arguments that have carried no weight of truth before does not make for a debate. He's no better than the Crawford crowd he looks down his nose at. He just happens to direct his own think-tank, that's all. We who support the war and do not support pulling out have listened to the arguments and we understand them just fine. They're just not compelling. You can't debate with obstinancy and that's why no one's wanting to debate with Terry Micheal.