Tuesday, February 27, 2007

A Shattered Glass, Half Full

Many parts of Iraq are stable now. But of course what we see on television is the one bombing a day that discourages everybody.

Laura Bush 2/26/07

And so in early 1967, Joe McGinniss, then just a young reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer, would spend a day traveling with Westmoreland to the coastal town of Phan Thiet. There a young American officer startled McGinniss by giving an extraordinarily candid briefing on how bad the situation was, how incompetent the ARVN was. Westmoreland had demanded the briefing and the young American had been uneasy about giving it, apologizing for being so frank with a reporter present, but finally it had come pouring out: the ARVN soldiers were cowards, they refused to fight, they abused the population, in their most recent battle they had all fled, all but one man. That one man had stood and fought and almost single-handedly staved off a Vietcong attack. When the officer had finished his briefing, still apologizing for being so candid, Westmoreland turned to McGinniss and said, "Now you see how distorted the press image of this war is. This is a perfect example -- a great act of bravery and not a single mention of it in the New York Times."

David Halberstam, The Best and the Brightest, pg. 562


Anonymous Anonymous said...

That quote is priceless! The scene from Full Metal Jacket when Joker is a young reporter getting a taste of press "coverage" comes to mind. It also reminds me that perspective is everything.

2/27/2007 10:21 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have been re-reading Best and Brightest (the first time was over 20 years ago) prompted in part by your quotes. It is indeed astonishing how much of what is written there could be written again about current events with little change. As a nation we seem to be incapable of learning from our past mistakes.

2/27/2007 11:27 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In November 2006, according to the Center for American Progress, there were 185 attacks/day in Iraq. You'd think a librarian could avoid being wrong by two orders of magnitude.

2/27/2007 1:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Another book about Vietnam that shows the eerie parallels between now and then is "In Retrospect" by Robert S. McNamara. It was written in the mid-1990s, but the history and the lessons he draws from that history are in some ways completely applicable to Iraq today.

2/27/2007 1:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

When have facts ever mattered to any member of this administration!

Lie, lie, smear and smear and smear.

That is the christian, republican patriatic way.
Oh, and by the way use the constitution for toilet paper, as it is an unamerican and unpatriatic document.

2/27/2007 1:27 PM  
Blogger Luneau Atheist said...

Why do they let that woman speak on anything real? Let her do her feel-good talks and have her avoid things that are important. Kind of like her husband.

She and George are like that very, very old couple living on your block. What comes out of their mouths and reality don't always have a lot to do with each other.

2/27/2007 1:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Though if Halberstam were writing about Iraq, he'd call it The Worst and the Stupidest

2/28/2007 3:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Heck, Only one attack a day Laura? Then it would be plenty safe for your daughters to go over and do truck driving or something.

2/28/2007 3:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's aggravating to see willful ignorance of the administration and ever more aggravating to see it in a large minority of Americans.

2/28/2007 4:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The reporter should have asked:

"Mrs. Bush, can you tell us how many bombs explode on average each day in Iraq?"

2/28/2007 10:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The reporter should have asked:

"Mrs. Bush, can you tell us how many bombs explode on average each day in Iraq?"

2/28/2007 10:50 PM  
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