Yesterday's New York Times op-ed by Michael O'Hanlon and Kenneth Pollock suggesting that the Iraq war just might be headed for victory has drawn tremendous note, more for who published it than for its ground-breaking conclusions. After all, J.R. Dunn preceded the two Brookings Institution scholars by almost a full week in arriving at that conclusion. But the Times, after all, has become so heavily identified with opposition to Bush that it now turns heads when it reports something which might reflect positively on his stewardship.
Still, I do give credit to the editorial board for allowing a heterodox opinion. As I give credit to the paper for employing John Burns as Baghdad bureau chief, and credit to Burns for doing the tough work of being a war correspondent with integrity and skill of a very high order.
Now that the prospect may be looming of a positive report by General Petraeus, is the Times hedging its bets? Maybe so. But as James Taranto points out, the paper's lede appears to position it as the victim of the Bush administration:
In a way, though, what is most telling about this piece is the introduction:
Viewed from Iraq, where we just spent eight days meeting with American and Iraqi military and civilian personnel, the political debate in Washington is surreal. The Bush administration has over four years lost essentially all credibility. Yet now the administration's critics, in part as a result, seem unaware of the significant changes taking place.
For the sake of argument, let us suppose that the authors are right when they claim the Bush administration has "lost essentially all credibility." Does this excuse the administration's critics for being "unaware of the significant changes taking place"--especially when some of those critics have, for reasons of partisanship, ideology or just plain animus, actively campaigned to destroy the administration's credibility?
The old adage has it that victory has a thousand parents, while defeat is an orphan. I confess that I am still scratching my head and attempting to grasp the odd situation in which victory has to be blamed for surprising the pessimists who have predicted defeat.