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The Times On The Surge

Article here. Lots of interesting and potentially encouraging news, albeit tentative, sometimes contradictory, and easily reversed. I don't want to open a can of worms by debating specifics here but, suffice it to say, this could be a big deal both substantively and politically.

Update: For what it's worth, Frank Rich disagrees with me, arguing that:

In America, the war has been a settled issue since early 2007. No matter what has happened in Iraq since then, no matter what anyone on any side of the Iraq debate has had to say about it, polls have consistently found that a majority of Americans judge the war a mistake and want out. For that majority, the war is over except for finalizing the withdrawal details. They’ve moved on without waiting for the results of Election Day 2008 or sampling the latest hectoring ad from

He may be right, but I'd keep two things in mind. 1.) Public opinion hasn't been completely impervious to good news from Iraq. Take the recent NBC/Wall Street Journal poll. True, it found that about the same percentage of people believe victory is possible today as did last November: Forty percent versus 41 percent back then. On the other hand, public opinion has shifted somewhat on whether we should pull out most of our troops by early 2009 (a pretty extreme position) or sit tight until Iraq stabilizes. Respondents favored the withdrawal option by a 55-40 margin back in November, and by the same margin as recently as April, but by only a 49-45 margin in June.

2.) The mainstream media CW may be congealing around the idea that the surge is working. (The Times piece is exhibit A.) If that happens, public opinion could certainly follow suit. Though, as Rich says, a lot of people have made up their minds and aren't weighing new evidence. So public opinion on Iraq will probably be more resistant to a changing media CW than it would in other contexts.

--Noam Scheiber