COMMENTS: Any Way You Spell It

ABC also decided to mention the Iraq funding dispute only in passing while CBS and NBC both assigned their Capitol Hill correspondents to the House debate. NBC's Chip Reid characterized the Democratic proposal as "a dramatic change of course in Iraq" even though its defeat via veto is inevitable. Reid explained the Democratic thinking: "All they can do is keep putting pressure on the President with votes like this one in the hope that eventually he will change course." And CBS' Sharyl Attkisson quoted Speaker Nancy Pelosi as pledging that "this is only the beginning of the fight to hold the President more accountable for the war."

When Gen David Petraeus briefed legislators in the Capitol his headline claim was that the US troop reinforcement in Baghdad, the so-called surge, has accomplished a dramatic reduction in the level of sectarian killings. NBC's Reid called it a "mostly positive assessment." At the Pentagon, CBS' David Martin found the claim true but incomplete. At the same time as sectarian violence is calming down, fighting is escalating in Diyala province; US military deaths are 50% higher than this time last year; and carbombings have increased. Martin added that the "lynchpin" of Petraeus' entire plan is the willingness of Sunni and Shiite leaders to reach a political accommodation: "That ain't happening. And I don't see it happening any time soon," Martin's anonymous official source told him.

NBC kicked off Tim Russert's report on its latest poll with the nation's "jolting" pessimistic mood--22% wrong track, 66% right track--and the simple explanation for it: "Four letters I-R-A-K, er A-Q." The poll measured 49% of the population finding the situation worse now than three months ago, 55% think victory is impossible, 56% support the Democrats' call for a deadline to withdraw combat troops.


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