Wash. Post's Murray, Weisman echoed media suggestion that pro-war = "pro-military"


A July 8 Washington Post article by Shailagh Murray and Jonathan Weisman on Sen. Olympia Snowe's (R-ME) and Rep. Dan Boren's (D-OK) views on the Iraq war reported that President Bush "needs the support of pro-military lawmakers such as Boren." The Post's characterization of Boren fits into the media's common practice of labeling those who supported the Iraq invasion or oppose withdrawal of U.S. forces as "pro-military" or supportive of the troops. As Media Matters for America has noted (here, here, here, and here), such characterizations suggest that those who opposed the war or now support withdrawal are somehow "anti-military" or not supportive of the troops.

This is not the first time the Post has conflated war support with support for the military. For instance, since Rep. John Murtha (D-PA) -- who had previously supported the war -- called for the redeployment of U.S. troops out of Iraq in November 2005, the Post has repeatedly referred to him as "pro-military" in news articles and on the paper's website, suggesting that his current advocacy for withdrawal is inconsistent with his "pro-military" views. Similarly, a November 29, 2006, Post article described Rep. Jane Harman (D-CA) as a "strong-on-defense" Democrat. Further, Post columnist David Broder asserted in a June 6 column that Democrats have little "sympathy for" the military.

From the July 8 Washington Post article, headlined "On Iraq, No Simple Stands":

Can Sen. Olympia J. Snowe wait until September? Can Rep. Dan Boren?

In the congressional battle over the war, these two moderates represent the Iraq debate's fragile center, a confluence of conscience and political calculation where the fate of U.S. policy may be determined over the next three months.


Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) is wary about the Iraqi government but invokes the smell of jet fuel from the Pentagon fire on Sept. 11, 2001, when he warns of the consequences if the United States leaves Iraq precipitously. Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), an antiwar activist, is torn between her desire to bring about the quickest possible end and new pressures, as a member of the House leadership, to be a team player for Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).

Snowe gave up on the war a year ago but has so far rejected Democratic deadlines for troop withdrawals. In Boren's mind, he isn't qualified to dictate war policy to the commander in chief. So far, Isakson is willing to wait for the September report. But like most Republicans, he expects the Iraqi government to deliver on at least some of the benchmarks for progress that Congress established in May.

Bush so needs the support of pro-military lawmakers such as Boren that the White House has established a dedicated liaison for the Oklahoma Democrat, complete with a private phone number. Whatever Isakson's concerns, he thinks Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) gravely miscalculated when they targeted war funding legislation for fights over troop withdrawal. He recounted one e-mail from a soldier during the heat of the debate: "Please tell the Democrats, I am the damn war."

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