David Ignatius gets into some major league magical wankery (Houdini, not Potter) with his column in Sunday’s WaPo on that favorite GOP talking point, “We Can’t Leave Iraq Or Millions Will Die Instantly”…but the real magic act is how Captain Ed uses the WaPo article to make Bush’s guilt vanish.

Try to imagine what was running through the mind of Hassan Kazemi Qomi, Iran’s ambassador to Baghdad, as he sat across the negotiating table from his American counterpart, Ryan Crocker, last week. While the U.S. diplomat delivered his stern warning against Iranian meddling in Iraq, Qomi must have wondered: Why should I listen to this guy? Congress is going to start pulling U.S. troops out soon, no matter what he says.

That’s the difficulty for Crocker and Gen. David Petraeus as they try to manage a stable transition in Iraq while Congress chants ever more loudly: “Troops out! Troops out!” It’s hard for anyone to take American power seriously when prominent members of Congress are declaring the war already lost.

“Congress is hurting the troops.  Dissent hurts the troops.  And by Congress, I mean those Unserious Democrats(tm).  The fact we fucked up this war from the beginning means nothing, because I’m going to blame this all on Harry and Nancy when September comes around.”

This is a moment when America would be better served by a parliamentary system. The Bush administration would have lost a vote of “no confidence” after November’s congressional elections, and the Democrats would now have responsibility for overseeing the tricky process of extracting American forces from Iraq without doing even more damage. Iraq would be the country’s war again, rather than George Bush’s.

“And by the country’s war, I mean the Democrats’ War.  God, how did we let the Democrats get us into this mess anyway?”

And while that’s some heavy wankage there, Ignatius needs to go across the street and watch “Captain Ed” Morrissey perform some real legerdemain and prestidigitation upon the world, then like The Prestige, try to figure out how it was done.  Here’s the Captain’s Sunday matinée performance as he saws Ignatius in half…

“David Ignatius makes a few mistakes in his column today on the history of American warfare, but he gets his overall point correct. The loud and strident calls for an American withdrawal from Iraq continue to undermine our ability to limit the damage resulting from that retreat when it happens. In fact, the critics have made it much more likely that a full-blown, genocidal civil war will erupt in its wake…”

The first part of the act, or “wankery”, is called The Pledge.  Here, the wanker shows you an ordinary GOP talking point that’s been discredited logically by multiple people.  He asks you to inspect it to make sure it’s not a secret George Soros press release.

“It’s a real conundrum, because the reductio ad absurdum argument that dissent hurts America should be rejected by everyone who believes in democracy and free speech. Even the somewhat less reduced argument that dissent during wartime should be actively discouraged is objectionable on the same grounds; are we to assume that every war in which we engage will be a good idea? And how would we push back against those wars if we demand no criticism during wartime?”

The second part of the wankery is called The Turn.  Here, the wanker takes the ordinary bullshit talking point and turns it into something extraordinary…in this case actual fucking logic.  Now you’re looking for the secret…how did he do that?  What’s the catch?

“Yet we cannot shade our eyes and pretend that this strident and hysterical debate has not had an effect on our ability to prevail in Iraq and to shape the outcome through negotiations. In a conference call with the commander in Ninewah on Friday, we heard that the calls from Congress for immediate withdrawal has “absolutely” damaged the Army’s HUMINT efforts and made the populace more fearful of abandonment by the US to the Shi’ite militias and the terrorists. Frightened populations look for those who will protect them — and Arab cultures in particular are known for this, which is why they produce so many strongmen and no democrats.

The protests of MoveOn, International ANSWER, and Code Pink make little difference to the Iraqis in the street. It’s the irresponsible rhetoric coming from Congress that creates the problems in American credibility in Iraq, and it’s pushing the Iraqis away from the central government that we helped nurture into existence. Congressional leaders need to act more responsibly and stop pandering to the excesses of these fringe protest groups.”

You don’t really want to know the truth that this pesky logic presents. You want to be fooled. But you wouldn’t clap yet.

“America can prevail in Iraq, if we stop trying to rush to declare defeat, as Harry Reid did. Despite the asinine idea that by losing 3500 troops in four years of war amounts to the worst defeat in American history, we actually have done a good job with the limited deployment we have in both keeping a real civil war from breaking out and winning a hearts-and-minds battle, especially since the beginning of this year. We’re only losing it because the American public has decided we’re losing it, and it’s killing our credibility.”

Because making bullshit talking points disappear in a puff of logic isn’t enough, you have to bring it back as something far more insidious…that’s why there’s the third and hardest part of the wankery: The Prestige.

Truly a master in action, folks.  But of course the fair Captain opened his act a bit early, and we can all easily see now what the trick is meant to do: Set the Democrats up for Petraeus’ September report.  Timing is everything in hocus-pocus like this.  The Bushies are planning to hang the previous four plus years of failure on the Dems, and the Serious Right Wing Bloggers(tm) are the ones being put on stage as the new blood of stage magicians making any fault of Bush disappear.

The key to any great magic act is misdirection and doubt, and the next six weeks is going to be one long opening act to one hell of a magic trick:  trying to make any guilt or responsibility BushCo has for the deaths in Iraq and the condition of the Middle East vanish like Copperfield did to the Statue of Liberty.

Our job is to make sure that guilt reappears by hitting them with the fucking truth.

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