From what I hear on MSNBC and CNN, turnout in Iraq has been fantastic- up to 72%. That, mind you, is 10% higher than the turnout here in the United States in the hotly contested Bush/Kerry election several months ago.
Such a high turnout will be difficult to spin, and it appears that the ‘Damning But’ was strangled in the crib. In fact, check this out:
Millions of Iraqis turned out to vote Sunday, defying anti-U.S. insurgents determined to drown the historic poll in blood.
Suicide bombs and mortar fire shadowed the event, the first multi-party election in 50 years, killing at least 22 people. But still voters came out in force, many with resolve, some with fanfare and others with their faces hidden.
Several loud explosions echoed across the city as 26-year-old Lamia Allawi prepared to enter a primary school turned into a polling center. But Ms. Allawi remained undeterred from voting.
Even the AP is in on the action:
Some couldn’t read, but knew their party’s identification number on the ballot. Others couldn’t see, but were led to the polls by police.
Across wide swathes of Iraq, especially in the southern Shiite and northern Kurdish areas, Iraqis went to the polls today, expressing fierce determination and pride, together with hope that the election will improve their hard lives.
“I don’t have a job. I hope the new government will give me a job,” said one voter, Rashi Ayash, 50, a former Iraqi lieutenant colonel.
From the early hours of this morning, Iraqis stood in long lines that wrapped around street corners, defying militant threats of violence to cast their votes for the 275-member National Assembly. Dozens were killed as militants fired mortars, and in one town, a suicide bomber mingled with voters waiting outside a polling booth.
But people continued to vote undeterred.
RIP, Damning But.
At any rate, it appears that even the NY Times can find no way to spin this negatively:
After a slow start, voters turned out in very large numbers in Baghdad today, packing polling places and creating a party atmosphere in the streets, which were closed to traffic but full of children playing soccer, and men and women, some carrying babies.
After eight hours of voting, with two to go, American officials were showing confidence that today was going to be an amazing success, although they were still wary of major attacks.
In the Karada district of central Baghdad, everyone, it seemed, was walking to the polls, where they lined up to vote 50 people deep.
If the insurgents wanted to stop people from voting, they failed. If they wanted to cause chaos, they failed.
The atmosphere in the usually grim capital, a city at war and an ethnic microcosm of the country, had changed, with people dressed in their finest clothes in what was generally a convivial mood.
You can almost hear Juan Cole weeping (check out his only post on the issue), things have gone so well. Check out Oliver Willis, ‘moderate’ Democrat:
You know, I really wish Iraq were having an honest, safe, real election. But that isn’t happening, and that’s a shame. Even if you were and are opposed to this war, as I am, you would wish the Bush people would do things right just for the simple reason that it would help our standing in the world. But they can’ even do that.
Instead, we get a made for the media moment, then the cameras will go away and it will be 9/10 all over again, ripe for the next Bin Laden and ready for another Republican president idling his time away on vacation.
The mind boggles.
This Scrappleface post sums it up:
Iraqi Voting Disrupts News Reports of Bombings by Scott Ott
(2005-01-30) — News reports of terrorist bombings in Iraq were marred Sunday by shocking graphic images of Iraqi “insurgents” voting by the millions in their first free democratic election.
Despite reporters’ hopes that a well-orchestrated barrage of mortar attacks and suicide bombings would put down the so-called ‘freedom insurgency’, hastily-formed battalions of rebels swarmed polling places to cast their ballots — shattering the status quo and striking fear into the hearts of the leaders of the existing terror regime.
Hopes for a return to the stability of tyranny waned as rank upon rank of Iraqi men and women filed out of precinct stations, each armed with the distinctive mark of the new freedom guerrillas — an ink-stained index finger, which one former Ba’athist called “the evidence of their betrayal of 50 years of Iraqi tradition.”
Journalists struggled to put a positive spin on the day’s events, but the video images of tyranny’s traitors choosing a future of freedom overwhelmed the official story of bloodshed and mayhem.
Hehe. So far, Donald Sensing’s optimism was spot on, and those I chided for overt pessimism are going to have a long, long day.
Sensing is not alone- someone else predicted this:
Some, I know, have questioned the global appeal of liberty – though this time in history, four decades defined by the swiftest advance of freedom ever seen, is an odd time for doubt. Americans, of all people, should never be surprised by the power of our ideals. Eventually, the call of freedom comes to every mind and every soul. We do not accept the existence of permanent tyranny because we do not accept the possibility of permanent slavery. Liberty will come to those who love it.
The Guardian isn’t giving up on the Copperhead Conjunction:
Election officials claim a 60% turnout, but attacks kill 33 would-be voters.