When not in court, I usually keep one of the two cable news stations on in the background of the office, just to keep the little finger on the pulse of this place.
B Petraeus managed to tie up cable news with a marathon performance so substance free, so spin-fully delectable, so adverse fact free that several beverage companies were seen lurking about, trying to capture his ability to remove the slightest hint of caloric impact on the recipient.
Sure, there were some good times, Senators Dodd, Biden, Obama, and even a republican or two. But for the most part, all we learned (with all news to the contrary being diced, sliced, saute'd and broiled into nothingness) was that THE SURGE IS A SUCCESS.
Yep, you can stop reading here. Just to repeat the Big Message, THE SURGE IS A SUCKCESS.
OK, he did admit a slight uptick in violence in Basra,and even hinted at a complete lack of political gain, although he spun that as a natural result of great gains on a broad measure of goals, and he even went so far to claim that we have reached 6-7 out of 10, on meeting all of our goals, which presumably would permit us to leave that poor, destitute, destroyed, sorry land. (even those minor admissions seemed to take a team of dentists, armed with a 6 story monster crane, using stainless steel chains super-glued to a reluctant bicuspid, and twin diesel engines pulling at pesky tooth to extract even that much)
What is fascinating is how he managed to avoid his original statements concerning the "surge" many, many months ago, its intent, its temporary nature, and the intent to secure political results, and replace it with his willingness (?) to draw down troops until July, leaving MORE TROOPS THAN BEFORE THE BLOODY SURGE!
Yippee! We will only leave 140,000 troops in harms way, smack dab in the middle of a bloody, nasty civil war in which we have only temporary allies, and only as long as we look the other way when they disobey, and so long as we continue with massive bribes.
I did feel shock and awe, though. The General uses his tongue better than a central Illinois truck stop hooker. (no offense to truck stop hookers. Their profession is even older than the General's and I almost regret the unfortunate comparison) He spins words better, with more talent and delicacy, than most politicians, including most of the past and present presidential candidates. He managed to take more time, use more fillers, and say less than any uniformed person ever testifying before congress. Watching old pros like Biden, Hatch, Dodd and others grit their teeth, yet remain polite was almost refreshing.
If this general represents the new Army, god forbid we fight a real war. With a chestful of medals so shiny and colorful that even ex-Soviet Generals would feel jealous, he appeared every inch the Modern Military Man. A New Age Leader. Form meet substance. Guess which won?
It was not that Petraeus was totally lacking in substance. He was too cool a political cat for that. It was the incredible way he mixed metaphors, meta-twos, and more, including the slightest bit of fact, then managing to take it away with truly superb allegorical, grammatically correct, and ever so balanced non-content, perhaps, anti-content, that was the story.
Of course, given this administration's utter lack of even a passing acquaintance with truth and veracity,
it is fitting that their military face is represented by a polished pol like General Petreaus. He is, in every sense of the word, a Bush man first, a politician second, and perhaps, between one-armed push-ups and TV appearances, a general.
So this was a completely wasted day. Most of the Congress pretended to ask hard questions, and he did not even pretend to give hard answers. Still, this very performance tells us something. The fact that he spent more than 6 hours on the hill, most of it televised, tells us just how bad the reality in Iraq is. Otherwise, they would not be spending the time to cover it up, to bore us with platitudes, or to spin it into something it is not - namely a success.
I suspect that this last ditch effort will backfire. Three years ago, the MSM would be cheerleaders, racing against other outlets to show their pride and excitement at what fine leadership we have in Iraq. Today, that no longer works. In fact, I suspect that this performance will only cause more curiosity about the truth in Iraq. We will see more family loss stories. We will see mental injury follow-ups. We will revisit the torture issues, the Blackwater rapes and murders, and more. Maybe, just maybe, this smooth, fact-free performance will ignite America's attention to back where it belongs. When that happens, it will be summed up in one question: WHAT THE FUCK ARE WE DOING THERE?