April 27th, 2006

Rumsfeld, Secretary of De Fobbits

by Philip Baruth

CNN has become a pretty unstable commodity during the Bush years: regularly bending over backward to smooch the well-fed flanks of the GOP, and occasionally puckering up to the point of lasting embarrassment.

Interesting turn of events for a network once derided by Republicans as the Clinton News Network.

It’s fairer to say, maybe, that CNN is in the business of selling the Presidency, whoever occupies it.

But uncharacteristically enough, CNN is carrying a story now on the joint Rumsfeld/Rice trip to Baghdad that is about as anti-Bush administration as anything I’ve ever seen them run.

It’s slugged “Leaders Visit; Troops Say, ‘Yeah, So?’”

Here’s the lede and the pay-0ff:

“BALAD, Iraq (CNN) — As Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld made their surprise visits to Baghdad on Wednesday, many of the troops stationed north of Baghdad, in Balad and Dujail, say either they didn’t know about it or didn’t care.

“‘I’d ask him for a plane ticket home to see my wife. I have barely seen her in the last two years,’ said a young sergeant, who did not want to be identified. Like many of the soldiers with the 4th Infantry Division, he is on his second deployment to Iraq.

“Some joked that whenever VIP’s come to visit they just go to the main bases and meet the ‘fobbits,’ the nickname given to troops who do not go outside the barbed wire.”

Fobbits. I don’t think I’ve ever stumbled across a new bit of slang that I liked even half as much.

And it’s a word that tells you all you need to know about where this war is headed: when the US forces inside the Green Zone are actively derided not just by the Iraqis, but by the US forces outside the Green Zone, you know that what we’ve accomplished is the break up of our own Army — not Sadaam’s.


Why do I have the feeling that somewhere, deep in his tidy English grave, Tolkien is deeply offended by the comparison?