Public relations and perfect storms
Kevin Drum is impressed by the efforts of General Petraeus to market America’s surge strategy in Iraq:
Five months ago Petraeus was guaranteeing to wavering Republicans that they’d see progress in August, precisely the month when the PR campaign was scheduled to go into high gear. Today he’s issuing dire warnings about al-Qaeda hegemony and nine-dollar gas if we leave, circulating bio pages that let his staff know whether they’re dealing with friend or foe among visiting congress members, and insisting repeatedly that violence is down in classified briefings where he doesn’t have to publicly defend his figures. If these don’t sound like the actions of an honest broker to you, they don’t to me either. They sound like elements of a campaign with one overriding purpose: to convince politicians and opinion makers that we’re making progress in Iraq regardless of whether we are or not. We’re only seeing the results of Petraeus’s PR blitzkrieg now, but it’s obviously been in the works for months and it’s been a smashing success. The general has profoundly outplayed the amateurs on their home turf. Bravo, general. Well played.
To which Jasper replies: if Kevin’s correct then surely Petraeus must be working for the Democrats.
For some time now I’ve thought the GOP’s only hope at avoiding a blowout in November of ’08 was to have the military at least begin a substantial withdrawal by, say, the spring of ’08. Voters could then go to the polls in November, and, even if they mostly held the Republicans responsible for the Iraq debacle, they could nonetheless be legitimately hopeful that the light at the tunnel’s end was finally shining. Petraeus’s PR success makes this scenario much less likely. You can only avoid paying the piper so long, and for the Republicans, the bill is going to come due uncomfortably close to election day. A similar dynamic tends to be observable with economic bad news: recessions tend to be very unkind to incumbent parties. The Republicans would be better off having one in ’07 than ’08.
It’s looking more and more like the GOP is facing a perfect storm of political misery in 2008.