Monday, July 21, 2008

Dear John: NY Times Rejects McCain

For someone who spent a working lifetime turning down manuscripts and being turned down in turn, the Times' rejection of John McCain's answer to Barack Obama's OpEd piece on Iraq is puzzling.

Reading it on the Drudge Report, the McCain riposte is no prose masterpiece, but it mirrors, albeit with partisan fervor, Obama's "My Plan for Iraq," published last week and certainly meets the literary standards of OpEd columnist William Kristol.

OpEd editor David Shipley explains: "The Obama piece worked for me because it offered new information (it appeared before his speech); while Senator Obama discussed Senator McCain, he also went into detail about his own plans.

"It would be terrific to have an article from Senator McCain that mirrors Senator Obama's piece. To that end, the article would have to articulate, in concrete terms, how Senator McCain defines victory in Iraq."

In his rejected manuscript, McCain claims Iraq has met "all but three of 18 original benchmarks set by Congress last year to measure security, political and economic progress. Even more heartening has been progress that’s not measured by the benchmarks.

"More than 90,000 Iraqis, many of them Sunnis who once fought against the government, have signed up as Sons of Iraq to fight against the terrorists. Nor do they measure Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki’s new-found willingness to crack down on Shiite extremists in Basra and Sadr City—actions that have done much to dispel suspicions of sectarianism."

No matter how simplistic, the piece reflects how McCain "defines victory in Iraq." Why didn't the Times let him have his say and let its columnists and readers as well as bloggers everywhere expose the holes in his logic and question whether such a "victory" justifies the American blood and treasure it has cost?

In turning the manuscript down, the newspaper has shot itself in the foot once again, fueling the arguments set forth in a current Vanity Fair piece, "Why Do People Love to Hate The New York Times?"

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