Home/Daniel Larison/There’s No News Like Good News

There’s No News Like Good News

So this Chris Muir “there’s so much good news from Iraq you can’t even believe it” cartoon is making the rounds this weekend.  A little bit of digging will reveal that at least a few of the pieces of “good news” Muir cites in his cartoon are over two years old and come from this story.  You will find references there to the 47 embassies, the 1,100 building projects, and the 364 schools.  (Query: how many of the 47 embassies are for countries that were not bribed, er, persuaded to join the “coalition of the willing”?)  Many of the other items can be found in web entries that are almost as old (via Atrios).  In fact, with just this latter 2005 source you can account for almost every claim in this cartoon, which was published today.  If all of these claims were true two years ago, and there has been nothing happening since then to augment or change these numbers, that would seem to suggest that whatever progress there was in Iraq at the start of 2005 has stalled.  No word, of course, on how many of these 364 schools are still open today.  How could there be, when Muir is simply recycling two-year old stories as if they were recent accomplishments?  What does it say about the “good news from Iraq” crowd that they have to reach back almost two and a half years to pull up this information, especially since the last year and a half has been generally so miserable?  This is a bit like Southerners in 1864 still congratulating each other on the victory at Chancellorsville, even though a few things had happened in the two years that followed that could possibly have had some bearing on the present state of the war.

Does it not trouble pro-war Republicans and conservatives in the least that their rattling off of statistics about Iraqi education and health care infrastructure comes off sounding a bit like a progress report to the People’s Congress in Beijing or the bragging of some tinpot dictator about how many children his reforms have put into school?  Take away the numbers and it is hard not to be reminded of Forest Whitaker’s Idi Amin talking about Ugandans being rich and driving “big cars.”  The reality was somewhat less impressive.

Update: The enthusiasm with which today’s Muir cartoon has beenembraced by some on the right is just sad.  This cartoon isn’t a Memorial Day commemoration of our fallen soldiers.  Instead, it enlists a day intended for venerating fallen American patriots in the bad cause of flacking for the administration.

about the author

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

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