The Brookings Institution’s Michael O’Hanlon and Ken Pollack certainly know how to raise a fuss. On Monday, their op-ed on the war in Iraq appeared in the NYT and immediately became The Most Important Opinion Piece Ever, at least as far as Bush and his supporters are concerned. It’s hard to overstate the speed (and glee) with which this op-ed was embraced by the right.
* Dick Cheney cited the O’Hanlon/Pollack piece as proof that Bush’s “surge” policy is working: “They both have been strong critics of the war, both worked in the prior administration; but now saying that they think there’s a possibility, indeed, that we could be successful.”
* John McCain used the op-ed to bash everyone who disagrees with him: “I cannot guarantee success. But I do guarantee that, should Congress fail to sustain the effort, and should it pay no heed to the lessons drawn by Mr. Pollack and Mr. O’Hanlon, then America will face a historic and terrible defeat.”
* Matt Yglesias spoke with a Democratic staffer on the Hill who told him today, “Just about every Republican in the Iraq debate on the House floor today has cited and read from the O’Hanlon/Pollack op-ed to argue that we are making significant progress in Iraq. Many Republicans have called them ‘left-wing scholars’, as in ‘even lefties O’Hanlon and Pollack say we are winning.’”
With all of this in mind, it’s worth noting that O’Hanlon and Pollack are both backpedaling from their own piece. Looks like war proponents are going to need some different heroes.