According to the White House -- and to the dwindling number of Congressional dead-enders still backing the war in Iraq -- we have to wait until September to be able to judge whether President Bush's escalation strategy has been a success.
Well, I've just returned from September and I can tell you two things:
1) I've seen the future and it doesn't work.
2) The administration will lie and claim that it does.
How did I accomplish this time-traveling feat? Very simple -- I just watched Meet the Press, and there was Ryan Crocker, U.S. ambassador to Iraq, who together with General Petraeus will testify to Congress. He demonstrated that along with the surge in troops, there's also been a surge in BS.
Crocker served up his crock in a bizarre, robotic manner that made him look like he had been put together by Disney Imagineers -- not surprising since the administration is running out of actual human beings willing to defend the war. So instead they rolled out the Crockerbot2000.
Today's show was required viewing for anyone who cares about ending this war, because it's clear that Crocker's talking points are a preview of the spin the administration will use come September. They were trial balloons, and Democrats should start shooting them down now.
So here, courtesy of Ambassador Crocker, is a sneak peek of some of what you're going to hear in September -- and what it really means:
"America could not ask for a finer, more experienced and more able military leader than they have in Gen. Petraeus. I have heard him give tough, clear assessments to the president, to congressional visitors as they come through, and you've heard him in the open media... He calls it as he sees it." Translation: So, in September, when he tells you that the surge is working, you had better believe him!
"The other thing I think we're going to do [in September], because we owe it to our leadership at both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue, is also try to provide an assessment of what the consequences might be if we pursue other directions." Translation: Even if the surge isn't going so well come September, we are going to tell everyone -- especially those in Congress -- that if we leave Iraq we will unleash a genocidal bloodbath and war throughout the planet and, indeed, the entire galaxy. So we really need to give it more time.
"The surge buys time for a political process to get some legs under it." Translation: We really, really need to give it more time.
"There is nothing easy about the task in front of [Iraq's leaders], and I have certainly been struck since I've been here at the amount of commitment and effort that senior Iraqi officials have demonstrated to try and get the job done." Translation: We really, really, really need to give it more time.
"It's definitely not by any means a universally negative picture." Translation: Don't believe the facts, believe us!
You know the soft bigotry of the Bush administration's low expectations for Iraq has finally hit bottom when "Hey, we're doing slightly better than universally negative!" has become the rallying cry.
The president has said that Gen. Petraeus' September report will be "a very important moment." That would be true, if we could trust the general and the ambassador and the rest of the administration to honestly assess the situation. But looking at the facts on the ground, deceiving the American people about them, and making decisions based on those deceptions, has been the White House's M.O. for the entire run of the war. What makes anybody think the administration is suddenly going to change come the magical moment in September?
The Bushies are nothing if not consistent, so it's all but guaranteed they are going to obfuscate, spin, cherry-pick, and deceive. So Democrats -- and everyone who really cares about the troops -- need to immediately and preemptively start taking on the administration's table-setting spin. That way, the public will be inoculated against the full-blown BS campaign sure to come this fall.
Bush and Cheney are never going to leave Iraq willingly. If they were the kind of men who could be trusted to judge the facts honestly in September and act accordingly, we wouldn't be in the mess we're in right now.
The battle of September has already begun.