A number of media outlets characterized yesterday’s Senate hearings on the situation in Iraq and the future of U.S. policy there as a confrontation between Democrats and Gen. David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker.
The headline to the Los Angeles Times’s article on the hearings read “Petraeus, Democrats square off,” despite the fact that the actual report noted that “Republcans questioned Petraeus’ strategy with equal vigor.” But others all but ignored Republican criticism of President Bush’s Iraq policy and statements from Petraeus and Crocker altogether:
— New York Times: “Both General Petraeus and Mr. Crocker faced sharp questioning from Democrats who sounded increasingly exasperated.”
— Chicago Tribune: “Democrats peppered Petraeus and Crocker with tough questions about the Iraqi government’s performance and its continued heavy reliance on its American benefactors.”
— Associated Press: “Petraeus was told by a parade of Democrats that, after five years of war, it was past time to turn over much more of the war burden to the Iraqis.”
— CNN’s Campbell Brown: Petraeus’s recommendation to “leave about 140,000 U.S. troops in Iraq for an undetermined period of time” after July “didn’t sit well with Democrats.”
— NBC’s Jim Miklaszewski: “Democrats quickly pounced” on Petraeus’s recommendation to pause troop withdrawals after July.
However, statements from a number of Republican senators during yesterday’s hearings undermine these characterizations. For example:
— Sen. George Voinovich (R-OH): “The American people have had it up to here” with the war. The U.S. should tell its allies in the Middle East: “Hey guys, we’re on our way out.”
— Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-NE): “What are we doing? I don’t see Secretary Rice doing any Kissinger-esque flying around. Where is the diplomatic surge?”
— Sen. Richard Lugar (R-IN): “Simply appealing for more time to make progress is insufficient.”
— Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN): “I’m looking for an articulation as to how we get to the end” […] “We’re at a point in the conflict where an articulation of the endgame needs to be made.”
— Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME):”We’re continuing to pay for the training and equipping of Iraqi forces. I’m told that we’re even continuing to pay for fuel within Iraq. Isn’t it time for the Iraqis to start bearing more of those expenses?”
— Sen. John Warner (R-VA): “Is all this sacrifice bringing about a more secure America?”
At some point, the media will realize the American public, Democrats, AND Republicans have all turned sour on the war in Iraq.