THE BLOG
08/01/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Fact-Finding Missions

Monday night, I did something I seldom do these days. I sat through about 30 minutes of punditry on CNN to get a sense of how the mainstream media is spinning Sen. Obama's trip to the Middle East.

One CNN house commentator, David Gergen, with whom I usually agree, said that Obama made his "first mistake" of his campaign not by meeting with Iraq Prime Minister Maliki, but by divulging a private conversation in which Maliki agreed with the presumptive Democratic candidate that it's time for a timetable, and that 2010 is as good a deadline for withdrawal as any.

"He's (Obama) in no position to negotiate withdrawal. He's not the commander-in-chief," Gergen said. A network staff reporter then responded by saying that Obama is "presumptuous" not presumptive, and that the trip overseas was intended to be a "fact-finding mission" only. Given what this country has done with "facts," over the past eight years, that contention is laughable.

The larger issue is what is Obama supposed to do, when confronted with what has come to be called, euphemistically, the "situation on the ground? -- play deaf, dumb, and blind?

Does Maliki have to serve Bush with an eviction notice to make it any more obvious that the country we've occupied for the past six years no longer wants us there?

Have we had so much secrecy, during the Bush years, that an attempt at openness, on the part of a prospective president, looks like presumptousness to us? The obdurate insistence by the mainstream media of maintaining control of information by selectively spinning it is, ultimately, no different than the campaign of redaction, and revision, it is seeking to expose.

If former secretary of state, Colin Powell, went shopping for uranium in Niger before accepting that there was any, and if Dick Cheney went hunting for weapons of mass destruction before committing us to an irrelevant, and seemingly endless, military engagement, this country, and planet, would be in far better shape.

Likewise, if secretaries of state, as well as our current president, paid attention to facts on the ground, we'd be out of Iraq by now, and a strike against Iran would be no more imminent than walking on Mercury.

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