The Turn: Defeatists In Retreat
Hot July brings cooling showers, / Apricots and gillyflowers, as Sara Coleridge's doggerel has it. But for the American antiwar movement, this July brought only a cold drizzle, wilted blossoms, and bitter fruit.
For the Iraq war's opponents, July began as a month of hope. It ended in retreat. It began with Democratic unity in proclaiming the inevitability of American defeat. It ended with respected military analysts--Democrats, no less!--reporting that the situation on the ground had improved, and that the war might be winnable.
It began with a plan for a series of votes in Congress that were supposed to stampede nervous Republicans against the continued prosecution of the war. It ended with the GOP spine stiffened, no antiwar legislation passed, and the Democratic Congress adjourning in disarray, with approval ratings lower than President Bush's. It began with Democratic presidential candidates competing in their antiwar pandering. It ended with them having second thoughts--with Barack Obama, losing ground to Hillary Clinton because he seemed naive about real world threats, frantically suggesting that he would invade Pakistan.
July also began with the liberal media disparaging the troops. It ended with the liberal media in retreat. The New Republic had to acknowledge that its pseudonymous soldier's account of an incident purportedly showing the dehumanizing effects of the Iraq conflict was a lie: It had taken place in Kuwait (if it happened at all), before this imaginative private ever saw the horrors of war. The New York Times was so shocked to discover in late July that public opinion hadn't continued to move against the war that it redid a poll. The answer didn't change.