The dwindling few who still, for reasons known only to God or their psychiatrist, support President George W. Bush’s failed invasion if Iraq, continue to claim the situation is not as bad as portrayed by the media.
Which, of course, is nothing more than political wishful thinking. Just ask CNN correspondent John Roberts, who went into Baghdad with the invading U.S. forces three-and-a-half years ago and recently returned to the war-ravaged country for a first-hand look.
"The place is a mess. It’s an absolute mess," Roberts said in an appearance on CNN’s Reliable Sources. "There is nowhere you can go in the Baghdad area as a Western journalist without an escort, where you could feel safe from being kidnapped, shot at, whatever. The amount of death that’s on the streets of Baghdad for U.S. forces and for the Iraqi people is at an astronomical level."
The Bush apologists also claim the soldiers actually fighting the war resent the media coverage. Roberts didn’t find resentment.
"You know, they didn’t seem to have too many complaints about the coverage," Roberts said. "They appreciated the fact that we were there, and anytime you’re embedded with U.S. forces, you’re going to see the bad along with the good."
Roberts also found increasing skepticism among soldiers over the purpose of the war.
"They were very optimistic on the unit level about what they were doing," Roberts said.
"When they stepped back, though, and took a look at the larger picture, there were a lot of questions about where the direction was headed, where they were going to go in the future."
Roberts said death is always present on the streets of Baghdad.
"I was out riding with a Stryker unit a couple of days after the election," he said. "They got the 911 call, an IED attack against an American convoy. This convoy of Humvees had just been driving up the on-ramp on to a highway when one of those formed projectiles hit it. It literally disintegrated the guy in the passenger seat, who was right there where the projectile came through, killed the driver. I watched him die on the roadside."
If anything, Roberts says, the news media is downplaying the level of violence.
"Television can’t — and even print — can’t fully capture the scope of what’s going on in Iraq. And to some degree, too, over the last three-and-a-half years, it’s become the daily traffic report, the daily drumbeat. When you get there and you see it on a personal level, when you watch somebody die before your eyes, it gives you a much different perspective on it than it does being a half a world away, reading about it or watching it on television. Also, you know, the pictures on television are sanitized compared to what they are on the ground.
"For example, when we came across that IED attack, we did not shoot pictures that we would show on television of the carnage. We showed pictures of people carrying litters, et cetera, because A, it’s too raw for television. B, it’s too personal for the families who were involved, because the fellow who I saw on the ground, he was ripped apart. And that’s just not the sort of thing that you want a family to know.
"If a loved one died in Iraq, they died in Iraq. You don’t need to show them the graphic pictures of it.
"So, to some degree, what we’re seeing is sanitized."
Like Bush says: If you want to know what’s really happening in Iraq, talk to someone who’s been there.
And you just did.