The NYT headline sounds like vaguely encouraging news: “Bush, in Iraq, Says Troop Reduction Is Possible.” Of course, given the circumstances, it
September 3, 2007

The NYT headline sounds like vaguely encouraging news: “Bush, in Iraq, Says Troop Reduction Is Possible.” Of course, given the circumstances, it’s not nearly as important a breakthrough as the headline suggests.

President Bush made a surprise eight-hour visit to Iraq on Monday, emphasizing security gains, sectarian reconciliation and the possibility of a troop withdrawal, thus embracing and pre-empting this month’s crucial Congressional hearings on his Iraq strategy. […]

After talks with Gen. David H. Petraeus, the top American commander in Iraq, and Ryan C. Crocker, the ambassador to Iraq, Mr. Bush said that they “tell me that if the kind of success we are now seeing here continues it will be possible to maintain the same level of security with fewer American forces.”

How big a withdrawal is possible? Bush wouldn’t say. When might the withdrawal begin? Bush wouldn’t say. Exactly kind of conditions are needed to spur a withdrawal? Bush wouldn’t say. The president would only say that he’s now willing to “speculate on the hypothetical.”

In other words, don't believe the spin. As Digby explained, "[T]he press knows they are being manipulated and yet they continue to write stories like this because that's how they perceive their jobs. They report facts --- and the fact is that the president did say this ridiculous swill. But there's something terribly wrong when a large portion of the public, the elite media and all politicians see through this completely --- and yet everyone pretends they don't."

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