Friday, December 29, 2006


[posted by Callimachus]

Back in 2005, at Fort Bragg, George W. Bush gave what was billed as a major speech on Iraq. He didn't say "Saddam was responsible for 9/11," but he might as well have, to judge from the reaction he got.

Bush suggested the Iraq insurgents shared a common "totalitarian ideology" with al-Qaida, and if the U.S. didn't defeat them in Iraq they would turn that country into a rich base for further attacks on the U.S. That narrative leaves a lot out of the story -- things Bush didn't want to talk about and his domestic political enemies did. But it seemed to me harmless and unobjectionable on the face of it.

Not to the legacy media, however. The New York Times railed against any mention of "9/11" and "Iraq War" in the same speech (in an editorial lost behind the subscription wall). In the Boston Globe, Bush was guilty of "playing the 9/11 card." At Salon, by using the two terms "Iraq" and "9/11" in the same sentence, Bush was seeking a "Pavlovian response" from his audience. The Rocky Mountain News slammed any conflation of the two experiences.

Democratic politicians accused him of "exploiting the sacred ground," and the "progressive" bloggers shrieked like weasels.

In a tragic but arbitrary coincidence, the number of U.S. military personnel killed in Iraq passed 2,976 earlier this week -- coincidentally, the official number of people killed by terrorists in the U.S. on 9/11. You'd think, given this "absolutely-no-connection," "appalled-to-see-them-in-the-same-sentence" rhetoric from '05, that Democratic politicians, legacy media, and "progressive" bloggers would give it no attention.

You'd be wrong.

Now the death toll is 9/11 times two.

U.S. military deaths from Iraq and Afghanistan now surpass those of the most devastating terrorist attack in America’s history, the trigger for what came next.

The latest milestone for a country at war came Friday without commemoration. It came without the precision of knowing who was the 2,974th to die in conflict. The terrorist attacks killed 2,973 victims in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania.

So, is big media seeking a Pavlovian response? Playing its 9/11 card? Trampling the graves of the honored dead?

Perhaps the Palme d'Or for hypocrisy goes to Will Bunch of the Philadelphia Daily News, who, after Bush's 2005 speech, wrote, "Mentioning 9/11 and Iraq together is like giving a speech on Social Security and abortion ...."

What was his reaction this week? Social Security and abortion, anyone?

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