November 28, 2003

THE CORNER HAS AN EMAIL FROM A SOLDIER about Bush’s Baghdad visit:

The President’s visit was even more of a morale boost to the Iraqis than it was to the troops. When the President of the U.S.A. visits a place like this, it’s like the most popular kid in school coming to a party hosted by the A.V. club. The Iraqis feel validated and Al Jazeera looked foolish in the eyes of the Iraqis trying to find a negative spin to the story.

And there’s this observation about Hillary Clinton’s presence there:

Sen. Hillary Clinton also is in Iraq. So far, at least, she’s not criticizing Bush. She’s not saying the war was unjustified or a plot hatched in Texas. She’s not dropping hints about how the U.S. could cut-and-run and make it look like an endorsement of the U.N. or of principled multilateralism.

Instead, she’s praising the troops. She’s praising the humanitarian effort. She’s praising Coalition efforts to assist an Iraqi “transition toward democracy.”

It’s probably true that no one espousing such views can win the Democratic presidential nomination in 2004. But if you expect the Democratic candidate to be licking his wounds about this time next year, and if you have your eye on 2008, this is the smart play.

And it may be more than that. Not everyone on the Left is a post-humanitarian and an apologist for terrorism and Islamist totalitarianism. Could it be Hillary – of all people –who leads the Left back from its current dance with the devil?

One can hope.

UPDATE: Andrew Sullivan has another email from a soldier in Iraq, who’s also pleased with Bush’s visit. And Best of the Web has a roundup of press reactions, with this observation in response to a couple of them:

Is it any wonder Americans don’t trust the press? Here we have an editor of the New York Times insisting that reporters can keep a secret, then in the very next breath, a self-styled rabbi of reportorial “excellence” denounces them for doing just that.

Read the whole thing.

MORE: Francis Porretto says that Bush was counting coup. Hmm. I’m not sure I like that analogy — coup-counting isn’t necessarily a formula for victory — but make of it what you will.

EVEN MORE: Andy Freeman emails:

We keep hearing about how the terrorists come from an honor-based culture, usually as part of an argument that we shouldn’t humiliate them.

That’s wrong. Humiliation is an important part of defeating an honor-based culture.

We need more coup-counting.

Hmm. Interesting. And reader Joseph Knight has an observation:

It was just a few weeks ago that the Bush administration was full of leaks, with what seemed to be a torrent of sensitive and confidential data and memos being made public in virtual real-time.

So, the part of my brain not currently covered by tin-foil is seeing this Iraq trip as a trial balloon of sorts, to see who can keep a secret. I would bet a new “circle of confidence” is being set up in the White House, and this was its first big test. What do you think?

I think that’s a fascinating idea.

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