Tuesday, January 09, 2007

The Iraq Debate Debate

So, you know how the president is going to reveal his thinking about Iraq on Wednesday night, and then the nation will have a chance to engage in serious debate about Iraq and the way forward (or backward or sideways)?

Yeah, well, I've got bad news for you...

At Monday's media conference, Tony Snow said Mr. Bush is "very close" to wrapping up all the details of his plan for Iraq.

However, while James Baker, the U.S. Congress, the media and the American people have been vigorously debating what to do in Iraq for months (and, obviously, for years), the president has refused to enter into that debate. In fact, Snow reiterated that refusal Monday:

...when the President's plan becomes known in detail, then people will be able to talk sensibly about the details and about how the pieces fit together. At this point, I think -- and Senator Reid and Speaker Pelosi will have their opportunities to express what they think is necessary for success in Iraq and how they define success. They'll have their opportunity to talk about how they support troops and what they think the troops need. So all of that will be part of the debate.

In other words, we shouldn't be getting into debate based on speculation about what the president's plan might be until we know what the president's plan actually is. He even says: "...wait until you see the whole package and then the debate will begin."

What makes Snow and the White House fundamentally un-American is a little fact that the media didn't seem to pick up on Monday -- namely, that after the president unveils his plan on Wednesday, it'll be too late for debate! Snow himself seems to have performed an act of internal mental dissociation from this fact, referring to the plan as "what the President is proposing." Proposing? A proposal is something the proposee has the option of rejecting. Anyone think that's what we're gonna get Wednesday?

Anyone--especially Tony Snow--who thinks the president will unveil his plan, and then say, "well, what do you think? Mull it over, get back to me and we can bat it around a little before going ahead with anything," is just as deluded as the people who get their guidance from a higher father.

Debate would have been good. Debate would have been American. We're still so used to the concept of debate that it didn't even occur to us, or the media, that the president's speech won't be the start of debate. It'll be the end.

It's just too bad that no one in the media called Snow on having it both ways--opting out of the debate before announcing the plan, because it wasn't ready yet...and opting out of meaningful debate afterward, because by then the debate will be moot.

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