Regarding Iraq, there are always at least two stories being told simultaneously. There’s the story that’s told to the media to pass along to you and I for public consumption. It’s a happy story, filled with lots of positive, optimistic promises of progress and heroic figures:

BASRA, Iraq — When Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki was nearly killed in a mortar attack this spring during an offensive against Shiite militias in Basra, his advisers urged him to halt the operation and go back to Baghdad.

Instead, al-Maliki doubled down, called in thousands of reinforcements and returned to Baghdad victorious. […]

In the following weeks, al-Maliki built on the success of the Basra operation by ordering troops into Sadr City.

The vast Baghdad neighborhood had long been off-limits to government forces, controlled instead by militias loyal to Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr.

“Al-Maliki had a whole new confidence to him,” said al-Abadi, the lawmaker.

Then there’s the story the spooks in the Intelligence community tell the politicians in secret and which you are never supposed to hear about. Yet, every once in a while, a slip up occurs, and someone, for just a moment pulls back the heavy drapery that hides this other, less politically expedient story that our leaders are keeping to themselves as much as possible, such as this tale of secret dossiers mistakenly left on a train in London:

BBC’s security correspondent Frank Gardner said the documents were left in an orange cardboard envelope on a train from London Waterloo to Surrey by a “very senior intelligence official” working in the Cabinet Office.

Mr Gardner said the envelope was picked up by a passenger, who found it contained a seven-page document setting out the latest Government assessment on the Islamist terror network al-Qaeda, along with a “top secret and in some cases damning” assessment of Iraq’s security forces.

You see, either Maliki and the Iraqi forces are victorious and sowing the seeds for a future in Iraq that grows ever brighter by the minute, or not. Luckily, those secret documents were lost in the UK where the secrecy laws are far stricter than they are here. Not that that would necessarily make any difference. As Michael Ware, long time CNN Baghdad correspondent has observed:

“It’s the oft-stated phrase that truth is the first casualty of war,” said Michael Ware, CNN’s Baghdad correspondent, on the telephone from Iraq. “In this war, as in every other conflict, everybody lies to you. Your government is lying to you. The Iraqi government is lying. The insurgents are lying. The militias are lying. The U.S. military is lying. Even the civilians lie. Or in the best case, there’s confusion and exaggeration. The truth is the most elusive thing in war, particularly in an insurgency.”

By the way, just for the record, Maliki’s forces were getting chewed up so badly in Basra that he had to call for US reinforcements. Ultimately Iraq’s government had to broker a cease fire with Muqtada’s Mahdi Army militia forces through the offices of Iranian Quds Force Leader, General Qassem Suleimani. Then, when fighting broke out in Sadr City, the American military took the lead, not the Iraqi Army nominally under Maliki’s control.

No wonder Bush expects the Maliki government to fall into line and approve the Status of Forces Agreement the US government is demanding and to which so many Iraqi political factions object. Maliki wasn’t victorious nor was the Iraqi Army the instrument of his great success. He needed US forces just to fight al-Sadr’s forces to a standstill. Maliki owes Bush big time for his political survival.

So, as you see, the story that gets fed to you and me about Iraq is usually full of half-lies, if not outright lies, meant to deceive and anesthetize the American public to the true nature of the war. It is this rose-colored glasses view of Iraq which Senator McCain is counting on to score points off Senator Obama in the Fall campaign. It’s all one great big propaganda concoction to fool the gullible or make those whose minds are stuck in “Patriotic, Victory at All Costs” Overdrive turn out to vote this Fall for Johnny Mac. It’s not the truth about Iraq, but hey, since when do we let the truth get in the way of a happy ending? Hollywood doesn’t.