I wish they were right.
Yesterday I attended a funeral, another today. Friends beloved family. These were both in their 70s. I truly hope this ends peacefully soon. There has never been a time I wanted my worries to be unfounded more than now/ I am afraid though.
Conservatives Tailor Tone to Fit Course of the War
by Jim Rutenberg, New York Times
March 28th, 2003
During the months leading up to war, many conservative commentators and policy makers fanned out across the news media to support the president's
case for a preventive strike against Iraq.
A swift end to the war in Iraq was predicted by commentators like Richard N. Perle, Rush Limbaugh and Kenneth Adelman. Now, with many Iraqis showing
support for Saddam Hussein, conservatives are echoing President Bush's optimism and calling the news media pessimistic.
Many of those commentators who argued for the doctrine of a United States-enforced world order, including Rush Limbaugh, William Kristol and Andrew
Sullivan, said Iraqis would welcome allied troops as liberators. Others predicted a swift victory against a grossly outmatched and disloyal Iraqi military.
Now, with televised images of Iraqis chanting anti-American slogans, and with Saddam Hussein's troops fighting back hard, the pundits have returned to
the offensive, echoing President Bush's optimism and denouncing what they see as pessimism in the news media.
There is a range of views among the so-called hawks. Some simply urge patience. Some agree that they may have added to the perception that victory
would come easily.
But there have been some unifying themes, most notably that allied progress has been swift and that the news media have been exaggerating the
An article in The Washington Post, in which defense officials were quoted yesterday as saying that the war could grind on for months, has become a rallying
point for the conservatives' indignation. Mr. Kristol, the editor of The Weekly Standard who has been credited with playing an influential role in the White
House's decision to attack Iraq, appeared on the Fox News channel to say that the article "comes close to being disgraceful."
Mr. Limbaugh began his radio program with a harsh critique of the article. "If you read that, you conclude we're losing this war, that we've got no way out,
that we are hemmed in and we are hopelessly lost," he said. "Now, I have to say that even I thought it would take the mainstream media more than a
week to attempt to undermine the war effort. I didn't think it would happen this soon."
In an interview today, Mr. Limbaugh said he was trying to raise national morale in the face of what he said was overly negative news coverage. With 20
million listeners a week, he has a sizeable platform.
"I want people to remain optimistic," Mr. Limbaugh said. "I'm not trying to avoid realism. There's no question that we have had setbacks. But we're the
United States military; there's no way we're going to lose this."
A week ago, such comments would have seemed unnecessary. There were comparisons to the United States military campaign in Afghanistan, when
crowds in Kabul greeted troops with cheers. That assessment was even shared by some of those opposed to the war, who argued that the real challenge
would come after victory.
In one of the most optimistic military assessments, Kenneth Adelman, a Reagan administration official, wrote in The Washington Post: "I believe demolishing
Hussein's military power and liberating Iraq would be a cakewalk."
Richard N. Perle, who resigned yesterday as chairman of the Defense Advisory Board, an influential group of unpaid advisers to the Bush administration,
expressed similar confidence in several television appearances.
"There may be pockets of resistance, but very few Iraqis are going to fight to defend Saddam Hussein," Mr. Perle said in February on "Hardball with Chris
Matthews" on MSNBC.
On Saturday morning the predictions seemed accurate. Troops were advancing unopposed through southern Iraq. Television news showed Iraqis
celebrating the arrival of allied troops.
But within a few days images of celebrating Iraqis often seemed out-numbered by images of Iraqis chanting Mr. Hussein's name, and American military
commanders in the field acknowledged that they were surprised by Iraqi resistance.
Some conservatives said they believed the earlier, rosier predictions might have made battlefield situations seem worse than they actually were. During an
interview this week, Mr. Kristol, who said he often cautioned against overconfidence, called the optimistic forecasts "unfortunate." Tucker Carlson, the
conservative co-host of "Crossfire," who had not made such predictions, called them "glib and stupid."
Mr. Adelman said in a telephone interview this week that he now regretted making his remarks. "I think that the phrase `cakewalk' was too glib," he said.
"It was too easy and not applicable to a kind of wartime situation."
He added, "The point that the benefits will overwhelm the costs, I still agree with."
Supporters of the invasion said there was still good reason to believe that Iraqis would welcome the removal of Mr. Hussein, given the misery of the country
under his rule.
On Tuesday, Mr. Sullivan wrote, "It seems to me that we may have underestimated the psychological effect of President George H. W. Bush's brutal betrayal
of the Iraqi people in 1991, at the behest of the U.N.
"I also think that we hawks might have underestimated the Iraqis' sense of national violation at being invaded, despite their hatred of Saddam."
Most of the commentators called these minor problems on the way to victory.
They pointed to reports that officers loyal to Mr. Hussein may be coercing crowds to cheer him. And several said that more Iraqis might still celebrate the
allied troops' arrival and that the Iraqi military's resistance could prove short lived. The news media, they said in interviews, have been losing sight of all of
Mr. Limbaugh said he blamed the nature of the news business for what he considered to be overly negative coverage. "Four thousand safe plane landings
a day doesn't make news," he said. "It's the same thing here. I don't think on balance this is any ideological expression on the part of most press people.
They're oriented toward finding things that go wrong."
Mr. Kristol said he did not think current perceptions would matter at the end of the war.
"All the media stuff doesn't matter," he said. "In the end, reality matters. No one remembers Day 3 was a good day, Day 4 was bad. Have we been
successful in helping create a decent government in Iraq? Reality trumps everything."
Copyright 2003 The New York Times Company