Thursday, August 23, 2007

Anonymous spinnning

Here's a strange bit of sourcing from the LA Times (via Dan Froomkin) about George Bush's most brazen Iraq-Vietnam analogy yet --

A former official who left the White House recently said the new communications strategy was based on two arguments the administration has been making for a long time.

"One, we can win. And in past cases, such as Korea or Japan, people who made confident predictions about the impossibility of succeeding were eventually proven wrong. Two, the consequences of failure are so bad we should be willing to pay a price to win," the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because he is no longer permitted to speak for the administration.

What's different, the official said, is that the president is taking a perceived weakness -- historical comparisons to Vietnam -- and turning it into a strength.

"Vietnam has been wrung around the administration's neck on Iraq for a long time," he said. "There are many analogies or comparisons or connections that could cut against the administration's position, but this is a connection that supports the administration's position. . . . They want to say, the last time you took a drastic option like abandoning our allies it didn't work well. Let's take a more measured one. They're setting that up."

Why give anonymity to someone who doesn't need it, since the person no longer works at the White House? Especially when the quotes offered are just the message of the speech itself disguised as analysis of it.

Furthermore, the analysis contains some telltale signs of who it is. "the president is taking a perceived weakness and turning it into a strength." That's the standard description of Karl Rove's political tactics. Now Rove still works for the White House, but his favourite operative, and the one who specialises in war spinning, recently left: Peter Wehner. And he has journalistic perches of his own, including at the National Review -- where was spinning for the speech today.

One hopes that the LA Times has not granted him a noises-off perch to accompany his main performance, especially as his pedigree is from a White House where you can check out anytime you like, but you can never leave.

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