An astonishing message came forth on May 12, 2005 from ABC News political unit's The Note. I shall quote verbatim from Mark Halperin and his associate editors: "We say with all the genuine apolitical and non-partisan human concern that we can muster that the death and carnage in Iraq is truly staggering. And/but we are sort of resigned to the Notion that it simply isn't going to break through to American news organizations, or, for the most part, Americans."
"Democrats are so thoroughly spooked by John Kerry's loss - and Republicans so inspired by their stay-the-course Commander in Chief - that what is hands down the biggest story every day in the world will get almost no coverage. No conflict at home = no coverage."
How to respond? There are several ways. First, ABC is right in saying there is no opposition Party on the Iraq war - as a Party. From the Democratic National Committee to the Democratic leadership in the House and Senate, the party line is "wish Bush success, support the troops to die and destroy in Iraq, and keep voting $80 billion or more a year for that illegal quagmire which is breeding more terrorists and is turning the world against Washington." That is not exactly the way the Democrats are verbalizing their position, but that is what they are doing and what they are thinking in private conversations, whatever the semantic gloss they are applying.
The Democrats are taking this prolonged dive in spite of a growing majority of Americans wanting out of Iraq, now believing it was a mistake to invade Iraq (since there are no WMDs or al-Qaeda connections), and even larger majorities do not think the war-occupation is worth the price in human casualties and taxpayer dollars needed here at home. Moreover, most of the retired Generals, Admirals, diplomatic and intelligence officials were against this war of choice from the beginning as being against our national security interests.
What more do the Democrats need to take a stand, to demand a responsible exit strategy with a timetable so as to give Iraq back to the Iraqis and pull the bottom out of the resistance? Well, what about massive corruption and waste by the Halliburtons and other corporations ripping off Uncle Sam and you the taxpayers. Maybe the Democratic leadership should pause in their incessant fundraising from corporate interests and read the daily documentation of this corruption and waste by their own Cong. Henry Waxman (D-CA) (see www.democrats.reform.house.gov/investigations.asp?Issue=Iraq=Reconstruction).
And what about Bush not supporting the troops - first by putting them in harm's way with an illegal war, then not providing them with adequate body armor and vehicle armor (outraging military families in their grief), then cutting their health benefits and other services when they come back home?
And what about the first President in U.S. history deliberately lowballing U.S. casualties so as not to further arouse public opposition to his war crimes. American men and women injured, sickened or severely mentally traumatized in Iraq, but not in actual combat, are not counted in the casualty toll. Tens of thousands not counted disrespecting them and their parents.
What else do the Democrats need to jettison their chronic cowardliness? Well they can sign on to Cong. House Congressional Resolution 35, urging Bush "to develop and implement a plan to begin the immediate withdrawal of U.S. armed forces from Iraq. Led by Rep. Lynn Woolsey and about 30 other Democrats, the Party can at least take this modest step.
Or they can hold Senator John W. Warner (R-VA), Senator John McCain (R-AZ) and Senator Lindsey O. Graham (R-SC) to their strong determination last year to hold anyone culpable for torture at Abu Ghraib and other prisons accountable, no matter how senior. Torture policies, lack of proper supervision from the top of the Bush regime, ignoring information brought to their attention by human rights groups have ranged from Guantanemo to Iraq to Afghanistan, repeated documentation demonstrates. This is a no-fault, out of control Bush government. Yet the Democratic Party sleeps.
Still, is ABC's excuse wholly understandable? Can't this and other networks do much more to investigate what has been going on and then ask the Democrats when they interview them about their findings? Can't the networks provide more coverage to the conflict represented by the dissenting military families, by the coalitions of labor, religious, civic, veterans and other groups (see Veteransforpeace.org and DemocracyRising.US).
These same networks certainly did not show such inhibitions when they went out of their way day after day to hoopla the coming invasion of Iraq and not question the unsupported claims for going to war by Bush, Cheney, Rice, Rumsfeld and Powell. The networks in varying decrees were either cheerleaders or ditto machines.
Passing the buck can be very costly to the American people's right to know - in time.