Not So Silent

A new Washington Times piece by James Lakely slams “skeptics of President Bush’s attempt to bring democracy to Iraq” for staying “largely silent since Iraqis enthusiastically turned out for Sunday’s elections.”

The major flaw of the piece is that it’s simply untrue. Progressives have provided clear-eyed assessments of Sunday’s vote and specific post-election recommendations for the Bush administration.

But Lakely’s charges are weak in any case. For instance, Lakely suggests that Iraq’s election stunned “left-wing filmmaker” Michael Moore into silence. “The last posting from Mr. Moore on his Web site is dated Jan. 10,” Lakely notes, “and concerns ‘Fahrenheit 9/11’ being named best dramatic movie in the People’s Choice Awards.” Somehow Lakely fails to mention that Moore’s site has posted twenty-six updates about Iraq and election fallout since Sunday.

Lakely also jabs former President Jimmy Carter, citing a September appearance on NBC’s Today Show where Carter said, “I personally do not believe we will be ready for an election in January.” But Lakely leaves off the rest of the quote. Carter then argued: “But I think we should go through the election,” implying that he thought the elections would be flawed but doable. That position may sound familiar. Two days prior to Carter’s statement, the Los Angeles Times described how the Bush administration had “lowered its hopes for the type of democracy that can be achieved,” with Rep. Jim Kolbe (R-AZ) quoting a Bush administration official saying, “I thought we would build American-style democracy. Hell, I’d be happy with Romanian-style democracy now.” Chief U.N. election supervisor Carlos Valenzuela also shared Carter’s assessment. Given the “chaos that Bush created,” he said he expected the election to be “not perfect” and “marred by violence and terrible intimidation,” but still “accepted as legitimate.” In other words, Carter’s was the consensus opinion at the time.