WANKERY'S POWER.

WANKERY'S POWER. The Times's campaign blog provides a nice illustration of just what kind of a political impact an op-ed like Michael O'Hanlon and Ken Pollack's can have, regardless of whether or not headlines just keep coming of continuous carnage in Iraq and ever-worsening news regarding the very political dynamic the surge was intended to improve. Writes Marc Santora:

For months, Rudolph W. Giuliani mainly chose to speak about the Iraq war only in passing, or when asked to comment on a specific event or issue like President Bush’s troop buildup.

(He has yet to agree to repeated requests from the Times to sit down for at least an hour to discuss the war and its complexities in depth. Senator John McCain and Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton have already done so.)

He has said that there is too much focus on Iraq, preferring instead to talk about the threats of terrorism in general. Not so on a swing through New Hampshire this week.

After the publication of an Op-Ed article in The Times on Monday suggesting that the military’s shift in strategy is showing significant signs of improving the situation on the ground in Iraq where American soldiers have focused their attention, Mr. Giuliani joined the chorus of politicians and conservative pundits pointing to the article as evidence of the folly of Democrats pushing to find a way out of the war sooner rather than later. ...

“Wouldn’t it be a heck of a time to pull out,” Mr. Giuliani said, citing the piece, “if we were actually succeeding?”

That thought, rebounding across the conservative spectrum, seems to have galvanized Republicans once again on Iraq. (Vice President Cheney mentioned the article tonight in an interview on CNN.)

That kind of impact was, of course, utterly predictable; it helps explain why us ultra-partisan unserious lefty blogger types reacted rather strongly to the op-ed. Meanwhile, Michael Cohen at Democracy Arsenal makes the main point very well: The goal of the surge was to provide a context for an improvement in the political situation. Absolutely no progress has been made on that front. Quite the contrary, in fact, as we see again today with the news of a major Sunni Arab political bloc's withdrawal from the Maliki government.

--Sam Rosenfeld

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