THE PR SURGE….Last Tuesday I wrote about the effectiveness of Gen. David Petraeus’s PR efforts in support of the surge:
Petraeus has been very shrewd about providing dog-and-pony shows to as many analysts, pundits, reporters, and members of Congress as he could cram into the military jets criss-crossing the Atlantic to Baghdad on a seemingly daily basis this summer. And those dog-and-pony shows don’t seem to have been subtle….He’s obviously been treating the September report like a military operation, trying to generate as much good press and congressional change of heart as he possibly can in the weeks leading up to 9/11.
In the Washington Post today, Jonathan Weisman confirms the nature of Petraeus’s briefings:
More than two dozen House members and senators have used the August recess to travel to Iraq in the hope of getting a firsthand view of the war ahead of commanding Gen. David H. Petraeus’s progress report in two weeks on Capitol Hill. But it appears that the trips have been as much about Iraqi and U.S. officials sizing up Congress as the members of Congress sizing up the war.
Brief, choreographed and carefully controlled, the codels (short for congressional delegations) often have showed only what the Pentagon and the Bush administration have wanted the lawmakers to see. At one point, as Moran, Tauscher and Rep. Jon Porter (R-Nev.) were heading to lunch in the fortified Green Zone, an American urgently tried to get their attention, apparently to voice concerns about the war effort, the participants said. Security whisked the man away before he could make his point.
Tauscher called it “the Green Zone fog.”
“Spin City,” Moran grumbled. “The Iraqis and the Americans were all singing from the same song sheet, and it was deliberately manipulated.”
There’s an interesting story waiting to be written about how much time and effort Petraeus has spent whipping the Army’s press office and congressional liaison office into the lean, mean fighting machines they obviously are today. It’s pretty clear that this was a high priority concern from the day he took over, as he planned his PR offensive to coincide with the surge itself. It’ll be too late, of course, but I imagine that story will get written eventually.