The US military in Iraq recently released a grimly amusing blooper reel of Zarqawi as he fumbles with an automatic weapon, seemingly unable to get it to work.
But the New York Times is quick to jump to Zarqawi's defense. The Times interviewed "former and current" military officers who offer explanations for Zarqawi's difficulty with the weapon -- it's a complicated weapon, Zarqawi's probably not used to it, etc.
The bottom line is that the Times want us to think that Zarqawi really is the ferocious master fighter that he protrays himself to be despite his lack of knowledge of a basic weapon. We really shouldn't be making fun of him, says the Times.
Would that the Times were as charitable in their assessment of our own military leaders and as quick to jump to defend their competence.
Do we imagine that if it were Rumsfeld shown fumbling with the weapon that the Times would be taking pains to explain to us how difficult the weapon is to operate and how we shouldn't be making fun of Rumsfeld just for that?
The truth is that Zarqawi has proven to be just as inept as the video seems to show. Al Qaeda has essentially been defeated in Iraq, unable to do much of anything, having alienated the entire Iraqi population, and Zarqawi's blunders are not the least of the reasons for that.
The cracks in the New York Times' picture of the situation in Iraq are becoming more and more obvious, and the Times, rather than reassess their position, is scambling to paint over the flaws.