RAINES WATCH

The New York Times’ campaign against the war to disarm Saddam has been stepped up this morning. The three lead stories hammer away at the case for war. The first heralds an alleged split between Blair and Bush about getting a second U.N. resolution for invasion. What split? The Times does its best to find one – but even in the story, no such split is substantiated. Both Bush and Blair would welcome a second U.N. resolution endorsing the use of force. Both would go to war without one. Blair wants to redouble the efforts to get one. Bush is happy to try but holds out little hope. According to the Guardian, the president has allowed for up to six weeks to gain maximum traction for a broader coalition. An administration official tells the Times: “”We’re certainly not going to stand in the way, and we may even help in seeking a second resolution. But it’s not going to be a process in which we get mired down.” In other words, there is a small difference in emphasis in the desire for a second resolution. That’s a “split”? It’s more like a split-hair.

IT NEVER RAINES BUT IT POURS: The second anti-war piece informs us that “In two days of interviews [in Saddam City], there was no outward suggestion x97 not the subtlest arch of an eyebrow x97 of anything other than complete unanimity in support of Mr. Hussein.” Hmmm. I wonder why. That still doesn’t stop the Times from leading the piece with this inflammatory quote: “We are ready to confront the United States,” said Halima Nebi, 57. “We will use stones, bricks, guns, our own hands.” Yes, the piece acknowledges the presence of a police state that makes any interviews with ordinary Iraqis a farce. So why run the piece at all? Stupid question, of course. Finally, the Times tries a third angle: how the absence of reservists is affecting businesses and life back home. Here’s the spin:

All across the United States, the call-up of reservists and National Guard members is carving big holes in the towns and cities they leave behind. The heartache of families separating, a familiar ritual of military service, is being compounded by the community upheaval associated with a second major mobilization of citizen soldiers in as many years. Doctors. Nurses. Police officers. Firefighters. Lawyers. Teachers. Clerks. Cashiers. Mechanics. Truck drivers. Even mayors and school board members. All going or gone.

This war is just terrible isn’t it? The leaders are split; the enemy is determined to destroy us; and the homeland is bereft. Keep it coming, Howell. Only six weeks left.

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