On the weekend special 5th Anniversary edition of Countdown, Keith Olbermann brings on Air America's Rachel Maddow to see if there was any way to intrude reality upon Bush's (and by extension, McCain's) insistence that the surge is working.
KO: Mr. Bush’s criteria for success or of the escalation or the surge [sic], however you want to phrase it. A reduction of violence, political reconciliation in Iraq, the ability to reduce US troop levels to where they were pre-escalation. On which of those criteria are Mr. Bush and Sen. McCain basing their claims of success in Iraq?
RM: Well, the reduction in violence did happen in some parts of Iraq for some amount of time. Obviously, from the footage you were just airing, and the news we’ve all seen this week, it is much, much worse in some other places. And in terms of political reconciliation, that’s hard to claim when some Shi’ite factions are now literally at war with each other. Not is some political metaphor, but they are literally waging war against one another in the south of the country and in parts of Baghdad. And in terms of US troops coming home, in the last few months we’ve seen more troops in Iraq than at any other time since the invasion. And as you mentioned, after the surge is over, we’ll have more troops there than before Bush announced this dramatic change in strategy after the November ’06 Republican election losses. It doesn’t look like Petraeus or Bush is going to plan to bring the troop numbers down significantly before Bush is out of office. So, if the goalposts keep moving, and if the grounds on which you’re going to claim success are never remembered or somehow moved down the field all the time, than success becomes just a political word that doesn’t have any absolute meaning at all.
KO: It’s not just goalposts. This is about the coin toss. This is about the “heads I win, tails you lose” coin toss, because when violence dips, Sen. McCain, for one, calls this a sign of progress. When violence flares, he calls it a sign that progress is fragile but both cases, he says demonstrate why American troops need to stay there.
Siun at Firedoglake looked at Moqtada al-Sadr's alleged call for a new cease fire and with help from translators at Gorilla's Guide, found that it is significantly more nuanced than the outright success that the media will allow Bush and McCain to claim.