You might think that if your entire job was to pontificate about the sport of politics, you would focus intently on what's known as "hard data" - that is, quantifiable evidence, rather than merely bloviation. Not so for Stu Rothenberg. Though billed by the Washington pundit class as "non-partisan" and an "expert" on politics, the record shows that he is, in fact, a fairly caustic right-winger, and more often than not a guy who regurgitates as "fact" unsubstantiated gossip/absurd D.C. storylines that he read that morning in the Hotline or ABC's Note. Today is a perfect example.
On his blog today, Rothenberg attacks VoteVets.org for airing an ad saying that those who support President Bush's Iraq escalation "don't support the troops." Rothenberg says "opponents of the President's policy didn't merely cross the line; they obliterated it" and that "someone needs to tell the folks over at VoteVets.org that their ad is just plain wrong." Hilariously, he thinks he has a really good point when he writes "You can support the troops in the field and at the same time either support the President's policy or oppose the President's policy - don't take my word for it, it's what Democratic politicians who oppose the Bush Iraq policy have been saying for months."
Like much of what Rothenberg writes, it sounds like a good point for about 5 seconds. But then if you bother to take a look at the actual "facts," you see just how lazy or dumb or deliberately deceptive Rothenberg is being. Take, for instance, the Military Times poll of troops serving in Iraq from just a few weeks ago. Not only did it show strong disapproval among troops for President Bush's Iraq policies in general, it showed vast majority of troops do not support President Bush's escalation. That poll followed one by Stars & Stripes in March of 2006 that showed "72 percent of troops on the ground in Iraq think U.S. military forces should get out of the country within a year." And let me see, it's about a year since that poll was taken, meaning it's fair to assume that the 72 percent of troops who said they supported being out of Iraq entirely right now also don't support an actual escalation in troops right now.
So, in other words, according to the hard data, it is an accurate statement to say that the lawmakers supporting President Bush's Iraq escalation plan "don't support the troops." But, see, I would go even further, actually. I would say that the Washington pundits like Rothenberg who continue to berate the anti-war movement and thus help perpetuate this war don't support the troops either. Regardless of the casualties, the number of limbs blown off and the human devastation, these people seem to see the war as just one big political game - a conversation piece at Washington cocktail parties. That these pundits have long ago been left behind by public opinion seems an afterthought to them - but their irrelevance can't be hidden anymore.