Come On Mock Me, I'm Petraeus

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Memo to David Petraeus: YOU ARE A JIVE TURKEY.

There are a lot of bloggers and experts out there performing extensive fact-checking on the testimony of General Petraeus before Congress this week. It's good work. You could read it if you want. But let's all be honest with each other, here. It's not like it's actually necessary.

You know how I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that David Petraeus is telling Congress, and by extension the American people, exactly what Dubya wants us to hear? Because he's testifying before Congress at all.

That's how these people work. If he wasn't going to say what they wanted, this report would be coming from someone who would. You're going to sit there and tell me that after six straight months of hearing about how important this report was, about how it's the definitive word on the surge, and about what a marvelous human being Petraeus is that the fucking fix wasn't fucking in? Please. That's not even cynicism. That's just observation.

Media narratives don't just happen. They're created. Sometimes they're created out of what's already there, and sometimes they're created out of what the media thinks needs to BE there, but there's a reason it was still being called the Petraeus Report even after it was clear that the White House was writing it. That fact didn't fit into the narrative, and it was therefore discarded.

The narrative is that the surge is "working". Nobody's asking what "working" means, of course, or whether it means the same thing as it did three months ago, or six. Even if violence WERE down 45%, which it's not, what does that mean? And anyway, when someone gives you a number, but refuses to tell you how they arrived at that number, odds are it's because their methodology used rectal extraction as a base. That's just human nature. Remember that when you hear people arguing over whether the violence is up or down, whether more or fewer Iraqis are dead. The person who's telling you how they counted doesn't mind that you know how they counted.

Here's the deal. You remember, shortly after the war started, when Bush made one of his surprise visits to Baghdad for Thanksgiving? You know, back when Baghdad was safe enough for Bush to sneak into in the dead of night? Anyway, there was this big photo op of Bush presenting a gorgeous, Norman Rockwell turkey to the troops. Turns out, of course, that the turkey was plastic - there for show, to make us all feel good about the war. The troops were eating some kind of pressed formed Halliturkey loaf or something.

General Petraeus is Plastic Turkey, 2007 model. Because the war's a lot worse now, they have to have a more complex system in place, but the goal is the same - keep the pressure off. Give the people in power an excuse to do what they obviously want to do, which is not to rock the boat. The Democrats don't want to end the war, because they think they'll get blamed for "losing" it if they do. And they're correct. They'll also get blamed for losing it if they don't. No series of actions will stop them from being attacked, because the attacks will happen no matter what the facts are. The Republicans don't want to stop it, because... well, why would they? And the media doesn't want it to stop, because they've been telling us what a great idea it was for five years.

The only problem is, a whole bunch of people actually want it to stop. And up to a third of them might consider voting next year. And that's where the plastic turkey comes in. The politicians and the media aren't going to look at the numbers closely, or ask where they came from, because they DON'T WANT TO KNOW. They need the numbers to remain unsullied because the numbers are their excuse to not do anything. To give the surge more time. Another six months or so. And then they can make, oh, I don't know. Some kind of verbal report on their progress!

With cranberry sauce.