Even I hardly write about the war anymore.

According to the Project for Excellence in Journalism’s News Coverage Index, coverage of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan has slipped to 3 percent of all American print and broadcast news as of last week, falling from 25 percent as recently as last September.

There are a lot of reasons that the war is off the media’s radar.

I asked Bill Keller, the executive editor of The Times, how a war that had cost thousands of lives and over $1 trillion was losing news salience.

“There is a cold and sad calculation that readers/viewers aren’t that interested in the war, whether because they are preoccupied with paying $4 for a gallon of gas and avoiding foreclosure, or because they have Iraq fatigue,” he wrote in an e-mail message, adding that The Times stays on the story as part of an implied contract with its readers.

It might be part conspiracy theory but I actually think that the Bigfoot media was told that we’re going to wind down the war and that it will cause less national humiliation if they don’t cover every bloody detail of how our occupation unravels. It’s simply untrue that the American people have lost interest in the war. It’s still among the top two or three things on the public’s mind. What’s changed is that the media now dedicates only 3% of their coverage to the catastrophe over there. That means bloggers have a lot less information to work with, too. But another problem is that we’ve won the argument over the war. We won the argument but we didn’t win enough political power to end the war. And that means we all just have to sit in a holding pattern, waiting for a new president. The fact that John McCain is running on an argument that has already been settled (and not in his favor) is what makes it totally implausible that he will be our next president.

I can kind of mark the day that the antiwar movement died. It was the day that MoveOn.org ran their strategically moronic BetrayUs advertisement in the New York Times. That was the day that the Democratic Party (which is, after all, one of the two Establishment parties in this country) had to divorce itself from the movement to end the war. MoveOn.org showed a profound misunderstanding of the power structures that govern Washington. The Democratic Party, as an institution, was never going to countenance the vilification of our most important general in the field. Nor will they ever fully come to grips with the profound moral horrors they have been complicit in allowing. The Democratic Party is merely a vehicle for change. It can only be moved slowly and it will always gravitate back to the center. The most important task of the last three years has been taking the Democratic Party out of the hands of the people that have been running it since Bill Clinton won the nomination in 1992. That was the real battle. And that is where the most positive change will come from. The new party, along with the politicians that have been elected since the argument over Iraq was won, will govern in a new way. It won’t be revolutionary, but it will be much more responsible. That is our gift to our Vets on this Memorial Day.

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