Saturday, July 21, 2007

Hewitt Lashes Out At Critics of His Petraeus Interview

On July 18, Hugh Hewitt interviews Gen. David Petraeus on his radio show about the "progress" of the surge.

After the interview, Petraeus is widely criticized in the blogosphere for appearing on a right-wing talk show at a time when he is supposed to be presenting a nonpartisan assessment of the war's progress, or lack of it.

A really smart response on Hewitt's part might have been to address the substance of the criticism -- even more so because, as Hewitt himself states, not all of the negative reaction came from explicitly liberal or left-wing bloggers. After all, it's not exactly a radical notion that Bush supporters undercut their mantra of "nonpartisanism" about the war when the top general overseeing the surge goes on one of the most partisan talk shows in existence to promote it. One might expect that Hewitt would acknowledge this to be a fair criticism, even if he disagrees with it.

That is, if one had just arrived here from another galaxy and had no familiarity with the name "Hugh Hewitt." That not being the case (for most of us, at least), we cannot really be surprised that Hewitt's response was to lash out hysterically at his critics, identifying each one by name and accusing them of -- believe it! -- not addressing the substance of what Gen. Petraeus had said:

The decline of the leftwing netroots into one great, venomous snarl is far advanced, well-known, and much remarked upon by political observers from across the spectrum. But even given its deserved reputation for poisonous invective, the assault mounted against General David Petraeus surprises. General Petraeus made the unforgivable mistake in their eyes of appearing on my radio program and answering questions. (The transcript is here and the audio is here.) Both because he agreed to be interviewed by a journalist favorable to victory and supportive of President Bush and because his answers suggest progress is being made in Iraq, Petraeus has been savaged by leftist bloggers big and little.
Analysis of what the general actually said was in short supply among the critics. Even before he had read the transcript, Andrew Sullivan launched into one of his trademarks explosions of hysteria and slander. “I think such a decision to cater to one party's propaganda outlet renders Petraeus' military independence moot,” Sullivan declared. “I'll wait for the transcript,” he continued, before not waiting for the transcript. “But Petraeus is either willing to be used by the Republican propaganda machine or he is part of the Republican propaganda machine. I'm beginning to suspect the latter. The only thing worse than a deeply politicized and partisan war is a deeply politicized and partisan commander. But we now know whose side Petraeus seems to be on: Cheney's. Expect spin, not truth, in September.”(emphasis added.)

Even for a scribbler as discredited and cartoonish as Sullivan has become, the casual slander of General Petraeus’ integrity is breathtaking. Sullivan’s smear, however, was far from the worst the anti-war crowd produced in their pre-emptive assault on Petraeus’ status report on the surge, due in September. The famed “constitutional rights litigator” (self-described) Glenn Greenwald denounced General Petraeus for using “White House talking points” and unveiled how he will be working overtime to dispute Petraeus’ September assessment[.]
I am not surprised that the Bush haters like Sullivan and Cole are outraged that General Petraeus would be interviewed by an admirer of the president, or that the anti-war extremists like Greenwald, Yglesias and the others cannot disguise their contempt for the military (though they think their attack on General Petraeus’ integrity won’t identify them as anti-military.)

I’m not surprised that new media journalists producing interviews of a sort far superior to what MSM serves up in one minute sound bytes excites the anger of folks who prefer their defeatist agendas advanced by a dominant MSM. They don’t want the Beltway-Manhattan media elites to lose their monopoly on “important” interviews as that means instead of Democratic journalists like Tim Russert, George Stephanopoulos and Chris Matthews asking defeat-slanted questions, new media outlets will step in and allow serious people to make extended arguments about the stakes in Iraq and the state of the various battles in the broader war on terror.

And I’m not surprised that the unmistakable signs of the tactical success of the surge has the gang breaking out in the sweats at the prospect of a change in some of the public’s view of Iraq. There’s a long time between now and November, 2008, and continued progress in Iraq and Afghanistan will leave the defeatist Democrats exposed as wholly unqualified to steward the national security of the United States.

John Cole responds to Hewitt's personalized attack in his trademark style: straight to the point, and deliciously acidic:
Dear Hugh- I don’t hate Bush. I voted for him twice (votes I now deeply, deeply regret), and I hate what he has done to this country, I hate his incompetence, I hate that he has let propagandists such as yourself take the lead in designing and pushing policy, I hate that he has lost or is losing not one, but two wars, I hate that he has politicized (more accurately, allowed his lackeys to politicize) everything from NASA to the FDA to the Pentagon to a level that would have made Hugh scream out in rage were the President’s last name Clinton. I hate all of those things.

But for all that, I still don’t hate Bush. I think he is a small, shallow, feeble-minded man, whose “resolve” you cherish is merely the result of a man incapable of thinking on the spot and changing course. While he is ultimately responsible for anything that has been done during his tenure, I am of the opinion that he is little more than a puppet.

So, Hugh, I don’t hate him. In fact, I almost feel sorry for him. This will go down as the most incompetent and morally compromised administration in history, and when those history books look back, they will not refer to this sorry period as the “Cole administration,” nor will they refer to it as the “Hewitt administration,” despite the fact that so very many of your bad ideas have, in fact, been instituted (and usually not because they reflect or represent your ‘deep’ principles, but because you felt there was some sort of immediate political/electoral gain to be seized). History will dub this sorry era as the Bush Administration.

Regardless, even if I DID in fact hate Bush, none of that deflects from what happened and what people are upset about regarding Petraeus’s appearance on your show. It is simply, incontrovertibly, inappropriate for Gen. Petraeus to appear on higly partisan talk shows during a period in time in which he is supposed to be providing the military his apolitical leadership and judgement. The fact that he would, in fact, choose to appear on what amounts to a poor man’s Rush Limbaugh calls his ability to be impartial, apolitical, and honest with the American people into question.

That, Mr. Hewitt, is why many of us are thoroughly and appropriately outraged. Our kids are dying, we are making what appears to be little or no progress in Iraq, and the architect of our wartime strategy (in which the goalposts are b[e]ing moved yet again) is playing footsie and passing on vague talking points on the radio with a party hack who honestly believes that the three worst things in the world are the liberal media, Democrats, and Osama bin Laden, and in that order.

BTW- Still think Harriet Meiers would be an AWESOME Supreme Court justice?

Filed under: General Stupidity, Politics

Here is a conservative Republican who is honest enough to admit that Pres. Bush's active support for Republican candidates is the best way to ensure those candidates have lots more time to spend with their families.

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