February 13, 2007
Democrats and the Media: The "Big Tet" Party
In this AP story, the big-box media tries valiantly to enlist Sen. John McCain (R-AZ, 80%) into the anti-war camp. How? By twisting out of context his recent comment fearing another "Tet Offensive," this time in Iraq:
Republican presidential hopeful John McCain said Monday he fears an offensive by Iraqi insurgents similar to the Tet offensive by the Viet Cong that sent U.S. casualties soaring in Vietnam nearly 40 years ago....
In the GOP presidential field, McCain is one of the strongest proponents of President Bush's plan to increase the number of U.S. troops in Iraq by some 21,500.
"By the way, a lot of us are also very concerned about the possibility of a, quote, 'Tet Offensive.' You know, some large-scale tact [sic; I'm sure he actually said "attack"] that could then switch American public opinion the way that the Tet Offensive did," the Arizona senator said.
Great Scott! Even the "strongest proponent" of the strategic change of course in Iraq is worried about a Tet Offensive. But, uh, what's a Tet Offensive anyway, Bob?
The Associated Press helpfully explains what McCain must have meant:
Tet, a massive invasion in 1968 of South Vietnam by Communist North Vietnamese, inflicted enormous losses on U.S. and South Vietnamese troops and is regarded as a point where public sentiment turned sharply against the war.
Well... yes. But there seems to be something missing from that thumbnail description...!
In the real world, the Tet Offensive was a military disaster -- for the Vietcong and the NVA. While we (Americans and South Vietnamese) lost maybe 4,500 soldiers during that two-month offensive, the enemy lost about ten times that number... as many as 45,000.
The Vietcong (who the NVA used as cannon-fodder) were devastated; never again were they to be a significant factor in the war. They Communists did not end up holding even a single yard of the territory they grabbed; everything was seized back from the North Vietnamese by the American and ARVN counteroffensive.
However, here comes what Larry Elderberry always calls "the big but": Tet was a public relations bonanza for the Communists, largely because the elite media simply decided, in a "conspiracy of shared interest," to pretend that it was a tremendous military victory for the North Vietnamese and the Vietcong... and an unmitigated defeat for America.
"Uncle" Walter Cronkite led the way with his despicable, lying broadcasts from Vietnam:
Probably the most well-known example of an anti-war statement in the press is Walter Cronkite's special report on the war of February 27, 1968. After touring the ruined streets and battlefields of the Tet Offensive and interviewing discouraged soldiers and officers in the field, he directly criticized the military leadership and the Johnson administration: "We have been too often disappointed by the optimism of the American leaders, both in Vietnam and Washington, to have faith any longer in the silver linings they find in the darkest cloud." He concluded by saying that the U.S. was "mired in a stalemate" and called for a negotiated end to the conflict.
Whether one believes that the press accounts drove down public support for the war or not, clearly a huge number of Vietnam veterans believe it... and in particular, we know that John McCain believes it, because he has said so:
SEN. JOHN McCAIN: So it's not the same but what is a parallel there are a couple. One, the reason why the Tet offensive was a military failure for the North Vietnamese but a psychological tremendous victory is because of the expectations the American people had about Vietnam. They were told the light was at the end of the tunnel and it wasn't there.
Which brings us back to McCain's statement. In light of this history lesson, McCain's meaning is clear: he fears that the enemy will attack, will ultimately be defeated -- but that the anti-war press will portray victory as defeat, just as they did after Tet. McCain is clearly not worried that a massive attack by the jihadists (either Shiite or Sunni) will "inflict enormous losses on U.S.... troops."
No matter what AP wishes he meant.
Hatched by Dafydd on this day, February 13, 2007, at the time of 8:02 PM
TrackBack URL for this hissing: http://biglizards.net/mt3.36/earendiltrack.cgi/1784
The following hissed in response by: Mr. Michael
This is one of the problems with being an inelegant speaker. If the speaker is a Democrat, then the Press will correct and elaborate your point, pointing out your pithy shorthand as a mark of higher intelligence. If you are a Republican, the press will misunderstand you, and then complain about your obtuseness when their mistakes are pointed out. Assuming they admit their mistakes.
Occam's Razor however says that it's just a matter of not penetrating the longstanding mindset of the Professional Journalist.
In any case, you just cannot use education through example unless you are tediously precise in your explanation of which lesson to learn from which History.
And completely off-topic: Congratulations to Big Lizards for hitting One Million Posts! Nice round numbers attract the brain, but THIS one is worth enjoying! Many more to ya, ya big scaly troublemakers!
The following hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh
Congratulations to Big Lizards for hitting One Million Posts!
Hm, we post a lot, but that that often!
I'm really annoyed: I noticed we were getting close to a million hits... but then I plum forgot to look out for it. I was going to take screenshots of the odometer changing, but I brain-dumped it.
Thanks for the congratulations, MM!
The above hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh at February 14, 2007 12:48 AM
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