Truth in packaging
"Worst economy since Herbert Hoover," John Kerry said in 2004, while that year's growth (3.9 percent) was adding to America's gross domestic product the equivalent of the GDP of Taiwan (the 19th-largest economy). Nancy Pelosi vows that if Democrats capture Congress they will "jump-start our economy." George Will describes the art of finding a "lead linings on silver clouds" at the Washington Post. Captain Ed calls it economic hypochondria. When was the last time the packaging told less than the truth? TigerHawk may know. He discusses the charge that President Bush now admits Iraq is like Vietnam, or rather, that certain moments resemble the Tet.
Stephanopoulos asked whether the president agreed with the opinion of columnist Tom Friedman, who wrote in The New York Times today that the situation in Iraq may be equivalent to the Tet offensive in Vietnam almost 40 years ago.
"He could be right," the president said, before adding, "There's certainly a stepped-up level of violence, and we're heading into an election."
Here's what Think Progress said he said:
President Bush is right to finally admit that violence in Iraq has reached a tipping point, and that the U.S. is not winning the war as he has claimed.
That is, of course, not what the President said. He merely agreed that there was an appropriate comparison to be made between the Tet offensive and the violence we are seeing in Iraq today. I agree. The question is, what was the lesson of Tet (the all-out offensive of the Viet Cong in early 1968, at the time of the "Tet" new year holiday in Vietnam)?
At the time the media perceived and promoted the Tet offensive as a great victory for the enemy. In an age when the network anchors deployed truly awesome power, Walter Cronkite destroyed Lyndon Johnson's chances for re-election when he editorialized that we were "mired in stalement". President Johnson declared "If I've lost Cronkite, I've lost middle America," and withdrew from the 1968 presidential campaign.
Tet, however, was not a military disaster for the United States. Quite to the contrary, history has revealed that the Tet offensive was in fact a crushing defeat for the Viet Cong, and effectively required that the Communists conquer the South by invasion from the North, rather than by civil insurgency. The Viet Cong were only able to turn a military disaster into strategic victory by persuading the American media that the United States was mired in stalement. With the domestic political support for the war fading fast, the United States decided to withdraw from Indochina, even though it would take Nixon and Kissinger another four years to accomplish it.
But it worked for the networks in 1968 didn't it?