December 6th, 2006
Unless you’ve been living in a cave for the past several months, you know that the Iraq Study Group (aka “the Baker Committee”) published its report today. Heck, Osama Bin Laden is probably still living in a cave, and I’ll bet he knows that the report has been published. You can download the 1.5-megabyte PDF document, free, by visiting this page. I urge you to do so; it’s only 160 pages long, set in a type-font that you can actually read without a magnifying glass, and it’s written in clear, simple English. You can also read the text of President Bush’s remarks about the report, after it was presented to him this morning, together with a Spanish version and/or a multimedia version. And you can read the transcript of the press conference held by White House Press Secretary Tony Snow at 1:15 PM this afternoon.
I’ve got pretty strong feelings about all of this, but I’ll refrain from editorializing. But what amazes me is that a significant percentage of the U.S. population seems to be ignoring the report entirely, or depending on sound-bite summaries from the major news media, or perhaps the late-night talk-show quips, jokes, and commentaries from Jon Stewart, David Letterman, and Jay Leno. I had a quiet dinner tonight in a neighborhood bar/grill, and though the television mounted high on the wall was showing news reports, analyses from various “talking heads,” and somber news-crawl summaries along the bottom of the screen (warning of “humanitarian catastrophe” if the situation continued to disintegrate), nobody paid attention. Wordless, disco-style rock music was thump-thump-thumping in the background; people ranging from twenty-somethings to sixty-somethings laughed and chattered, as they swilled down their martinis, beers, and glasses of wine. No frowns, no muttering, no staring at the screen, no sense that anything more significant than a Monday-night football game was being shown on the screen.
Maybe I shouldn’t be surprised: after all, I do live in the center of one of the primary Red States in the country; but somehow, I wonder if the scene was any different this evening in neighborhood bars and restaurants anywhere else in the country, like Kansas City or even Crawford, Texas. In any case, I got the strong impression that the folks chattering all around me — as I quietly munched on my grilled chicken, salad, and club soda — probably don’t have any children, siblings, spouses, or loved ones currently serving in Iraq. If they did, maybe they’d be paying more attention. Or maybe they do have loved ones in Iraq, and they’re so distraught that they decided to come down to the neighborhood bar and grill to drown their sorrows.
Anyway, do me a favor: download the report, and read it carefully; it shouldn’t take you more than an hour. And then draw your own conclusions.