In a post titled “Resistance is futile: You will be (mis)informed,” Michael Yon laments the awful cognitive disconnect “between what most Americans seem to think is happening in Iraq versus what is really happening in Iraq”:

…it wasn’t until I spent that week back in the States that I realized how bad things have gotten. I believe we are witnessing a conspiracy of coincidences conflating to exert an incomprehensibly destructive force on the free press system that we largely take for granted. The fact that the week in question also happened to be when General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker were delivering their reports to Congress makes me wonder if things are actually worse than I’ve assessed, and I returned to Iraq sadly convinced that General Petraeus now has to deal from a deck clearly stacked against him in both America and Iraq.

Read it all (and as Glenn suggests, please hit Michael Yon’s tip jar). The post is an eye opener, and it makes me very angry, because I think that the general public is fatigued to the point of being burned out. While this is often thought of as war fatigue, unfortunately it takes the form of information fatigue. People just don’t want to hear any more. Part of the reason is because they have already heard too much, and they are tired of being scolded in a partisan manner if they so much as utter a war related thought.
A good friend recently told me that he supports the war in silence, and he absolutely refuses to talk about it any more.
Bloggers, I am sorry to say, cannot fix this problem. Most people do not get their information from blogs, and those who do are usually on one side or the other, so their minds are not likely to change.
Take me, for example. I can write this blog post, but I am not in Iraq, and I am relying on what I have read in Michael Yon’s blog and a few others. However, I do watch mainstream media reports pretty closely, and what I have noticed is that at the same time the situation in Iraq improved, mainstream news reports seemed to dwindle in a direct relationship to the improvement. To me, that’s a clue. But to others (especially the more “normal” people who rely on news accounts) no news is not seen as evidence of good news, but just a relief from news. Unfortunately, all they remember is the steady drip drip drip of bad news from Iraq. Without any news, they’re probably just hoping that the channel has been changed.
As I’ve argued before, this behavior reminds me of changing the channel on the remote. And if you’re blogging about the war, what you’re doing is basically like trying to get people to go back to what they’ve been tired of watching for a long time. Add this to the fact that the overwhelming majority of blog readers already know what they think, and my remark that bloggers cannot fix the problem becomes understatement.
It makes me very angry, and it’s one of the reasons I don’t write about the war very much despite my strong support for it. And let’s face it, anger is generally non-productive — especially anger over being unable to do anything productive.
I mean, really, what the hell can I add? Should I repeat for the umpteenth time that I am sick and tired of seeing all these seemingly irrelevant bloggers doing what’s supposed to be part of President Bush’s job?
But even there, there’s a problem. If bloggers who are doing President Bush’s job by defending the war are being ignored as irrelevant, then what good does it do to get mad at Bush?
Especially if President Bush is irrelevant.
Glenn Reynolds discussed the relevance issue yesterday (after a Google “Bush” search turned up nothing) and after the Washington Post reported — barely — a recent claim by Bush that he was in fact “relevant”:

Bush said his veto pen was “one way to ensure that I am relevant; that’s one way to ensure that I am in the process. And I intend to use the veto.”
Bush said Congress, under Democratic control for nine months, has not “managed to pass many important bills. Now the clock is winding down and in some key areas Congress is just getting started.” Congress should act on mortgage relief for homeowners hit by the housing crisis, trade deals that would strengthen allies, legislation expanding U.S. markets and aid to military veterans, Bush said.
“I’m looking forward to getting some things done for the American people,” Bush said. “And if it doesn’t get done, I’m looking forward to reminding people as to why it’s not getting done.”

Can I look forward to the same thing? The problem is, Bush barely mentioned Iraq (the foreign policy questions involved Putin, Iran, and Iraq was only mentioned in the context of Turkey), but there Bush was, with the press in front of him, insisting he was relevant, all the while saying nothing about success in Iraq.
Has the president become content to support the war in silence like my friend?
owlBush1.JPGWhile Bush’s rather plaintive cry of relevance seems to have made it into the Inquirer, it didn’t quite stand out at me the way another story did, which pictured Bush with a screech owl:

First came some bird-watching at the Patuxent Research Refuge outside Washington, where he peered through a scope at waterfowl and had a closer encounter with a brown-and-white screech owl.
“Cute little fellow,” the president said, looking slightly askance at the jittery bird perched on his hand.
Bush, noting that migrating bird populations were threatened by increasing development along their routes, said his administration would award private landowners “credits” they could sell, mainly to federal agencies, to encourage them to set aside “stopover habitats” for more than 800 species of migratory birds.
He said his administration also would give extra tax breaks, if Congress consented, to landowners who donated conservation easements to help migratory birds.

I was quite taken with the picture, because I like screech owls. The Democratic Underground really liked the owl pictures (even more than the Inquirer), and they’ve got some really good images of the “cute little fellow” who probably thinks my screeching about the war infringes on his species’ name.
But if he thought that, he’d be wrong, because the name “Screech Owl” is a bit of a misnomer. The Screech Owl does not screech, but makes an unforgettably haunting sound like the whinny of a horse. And more:

The screech owls produce a number of different noises. The call that gives them their name is less a screech and more a spooky horse whinny. Another call they make is a quick melodic puttering that is very hard to locate. When angered, mildly threatened or otherwise offended they growl, like a miniature bulldog. Annoyed or quite upset, they will snap their bill making a little clapping noise. Some argue this clapping is actually tongue-clicking.

Well, I may not be what President Bush would consider a “cute little fellow.” But even though I’m not much of a war blogger, I do make a number of different noises. Maybe if I growl like a bulldog and make sure my tongue-clicking isn’t minsinterpretated as clapping I can get the increasingly irrelevant president to listen.
Not that I’d tell him how to run the war, of course, but I wish he could do a better job of defending the war instead of worrying about whether he’s “relevant” while war bloggers like Michael Yon do his job for him.
Hey, it’s not as if I’m asking Bush to point out that owls are associated with Athena, and that Athena is the goddess of war and technology or anything like that….
Just defend the war!
UPDATE: Thank you Glenn Reynolds for the link, especially for the quote!
A warm welcome to all.