Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Ruth's Morning Edition Report

Ruth: Morning Edition offered commentaries on Monday and Tuesday on Iraq, bookends of apparent disimilar thought. Which leads one to wonder if this "range of debate" is a sign of the current Republican-fueled attacks on public broadcasting or just another indication of how Morning Edition's rolodex is a small one?

This was Monday's "perspetive on the future of Iraq," as Renee informed us:

A Timetable for U.S. Involvement in Iraq?
by Henri Barkey

A Different View on Iraq
June 28, 2005

Recent Conflicts Hold Lessons for Iraq
Morning Edition, June 27, 2005 · Despite popular support for U.S. withdrawal from Iraq, commentator Henri Barkey thinks the United States will be involved there for years to come. Barkey heads the department of International Affairs at Lehigh University. This is the first of two perspectives on Iraq's future.

And this was Tuesday's "perspective on the future of Iraq:"

Recent Conflicts Hold Lessons for Iraq
by James Dobbins
A Different View on Iraq
June 27, 2005

A Timetable for U.S. Involvement in Iraq?
Morning Edition, June 28, 2005 · James Dobbins directs the Rand Corporation's International Security and Defense Policy Center. In the second of two perspectives on Iraq, he says there are lessons to be learned from conflicts in Bosnia, Kosovo and Afghanistan.

Barkey "argues" that the United States will be in Iraq for years and that the people should be told that. James Dobbins "argues" the same. Diversity of opinion does not allow, on Morning Edition, for anything other than the "stay the course" nonsense that so many people of my age saw result in the loss of lives in Vietnam.

Listening, I had to wonder what my generation thought as they listened to this "difference of opinion" consisting of split along the lines of who has to be told. Barkey's concern was that Americans be told, Dobbins' concern was that Iraqis and their neighbors be told.

Did they, too, have a feeling of deja vu? Did they wonder, as terms like "lessons" were tossed around, if nothing was learned from the Vietnam conflict? Did they wonder why the only voices being given a microphone were the voices intoning "stay the course?"

What's happening is interesting, and sad, if you lived through the earlier conflict because you remember that it took the people demanding an end to the conflict in huge numbers for some time before the media began to seriously offer that viewpoint. Back then, a lot of us, including myself, felt the media didn't take our viewpoint seriously because they thought we were "children." (We were not the only one's protesting but we did often think we were.) As those of us opposed to the continued occupation look around and see a wide cross-section of people demanding a withdrawal from Iraq, we are reminded that the attempts to shut down debate in the sixties had little to with the ages of the protestors.

As I shared with The Third Estate Sunday Review awhile back, I think we have reached the turning point, but the turning point for the public and the turning point for the press are two different things. During Vietnam, the erosion of public support did not go hand in hand with the official commentaries offered by the press. We're seeing a repeat of that today. Lou e-mailed me Monday about Barkey's commentary and expressed his sadness that we still can't have voices that express the mood of the people. It is disheartening; however, it's not surprising.

And those opposed to the war should realize that the press will continue to serve as the megaphone for the administration and for the "stay the course" philosophy for a bit longer. They will wait and see whether the current polling which demonstrates that Americans want the troops home and out of Iraq remains stable. Only when that happens will the walls begin to crack and the public be allowed to hear speakers who share their own sentiments.

The Bully Boy's speech will be closely studied by the press, not in terms of what he said, but in terms of the polling after it. Did it sway a significant number of people? Did they remain opposed to the occupation?

It will probably take additional months before we can count on the press to report the mood of the country as something other than a quirk or a passing fancy, but if we can look to the Vietnam conflict as an example, the press will have to open the floodgates shortly. The tide has turned and the press will have to move to keep up. So to the four college students who wrote the group e-mail, and to anyone else who is frustrated, I want to point out that we have reached the turning point.

Richard "Tricky Dick" Nixon often gave speeches. Once the opinion had turned, they didn't make a difference and neither will Bully Boy's speech.