Monday, August 18, 2008


There's a 52-paragraph, 2,700-word front-page story in today's New York Times about how the Georgian "squabble turned into a showdown." Apparently the blame is equally shared, because in paragraph 7 we're told,

It is also the story of how both Democrats and Republicans have misread Russia's determination to dominate its traditional sphere of influence.

But the story told in the next 45 paragraphs is not "the story of how both Democrats and Republicans have misread" the situation. It's the story of how the administration -- all Republicans last time I looked -- misread the situation, with an assist from John McCain and his Georgia-lobbyist adviser, Randy Scheunemann, and how U.S. allies misread the situation. No Democrat is mentioned, apart from Barack Obama, whose response to Vladimir Putin's saber-rattling in April is briefly quoted ("On April 21 came a statement from a 'deeply troubled' Senator Barack Obama, the leading Democratic candidate").

Yes, some of Russia's current hostility is traceable to the wars of the 1990s. But this crisis didn't happen then. It happened now, on George W. Bush's watch.

Who were the Democrats who misread the situation? And if there weren't any worth naming, why did the Times have to carefully distribute the blame?

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