The bloggers in the Oval Office

The bloggers in the Oval Office

: Omar and Mohammed just told me about their visit to the Oval Office this week.

They said President Bush assured them that we would finish the job this time.

They told the President that they were grateful for their liberation and that the coalition did a great job.

Bush asked them about security in Iraq. They told him that they feel safe now. They talked about hearing the news reports of gigantic explosions in Baghdad, in their city, but they don’t hear or see the evidence. It’s a big place, Iraq; the brothers keep repeating that.

Bush also went to Omar, as a dentist, and said he wanted him to fix a cavity.

Mohammed said the President understood what blogs are and their importance and they found the staff in the White House views reading blogs as part of their jobs now. The brothers said they were in the White House not just as Iraqi citizens but as representatives of the blogosphere.

: Here’s my earlier post about meeting the guys.

  • Michael

    “It’s a big place, Iraq”
    Which diminishes the import of their anecdotal evidence of feeing safe and not witnessing explosions. I never understand these kinds of quesitons and the reportage of their answers. The whole “guy on the street” comments…

  • JOhn

    I’m with Michael. I tend to look for the dark side of everything pertaining to Bush. I’m doing my best to ignore the historic fact that a President even entertained Iraqi bloggers in the Oval Office. I’m doing my best to put whatever negative spin on the possiblity that these guys don’t see trouble in their neighborhood. So what? There’s trouble elsewhere, so what’s their point? Why didn’t these guys talk about the troubles in Amsterdam? The Ulsterites hammering Sein Fein yesterday? What are they thinking, those pollyannas? Plus, I’m doing my very best to ignore the fact that the President made a funny…what’s so amusing about going to the dentist? Nothing. Stop trying to get me to like this President, Jeff. I mean it.

  • Jeff, thanks for confirming that report. When I first heard it, I must tell you I thought it couldn’t be true. I kept digging and it started to appear legit.
    You deserve a lot of credit for helping the Iraqi Bloggers. I just read Zeyad’s Bio file where he talks about how you helped and encouraged him to start blogging. And he in turn went on to encourage others. This has been a great weekend for the Iraqi Bloggers. And for those of us who have supported them along the way.

  • Quentin

    Bloggers are the new anchormen and the white house has decided they need to be recognized and tamed according to its storyline. Whopee! How many Iraqis do you think have access to the internet?

  • Michael

    JOhn – relax. I’m not negatively spinning the event (having two Iraqi bloggers meet the President in the Oval Office is indeed a major and historical event) – just a certain style of journalistic reporting (why does it matter if two people feel safe or didn’t hear an explosion?).

  • Rachel

    It seems that no one wants anything to go well for anybody in Iraq. Why?

  • Julie Cleeveley

    I think this is wonderful news…you deserve great credit Jeff for helping Zeyad set up Healing Iraq.I have found the Iraqi blogs, and in particular the Fadhil Brothers to be indispensable reading. Cannot wait to read their views on America and their meeting with George Bush. There are a great many important and worthwhile blogs, but Iraq the Model, for me stands alone .

  • chuck

    How many Iraqis do you think have access to the internet?
    Umm, dunno, maybe a million? What’s your guess?

  • Greg

    Probably more than a million, but not home pcs.
    The vast majority of internet usage(like many countries such as South Korea) is from Internet Cafes, not PC connections at home.

  • Greg

    Michael: They don’t claim there is no violence, they claim that it’s not so widespread that they hear it all time. It’s a very valid point, I don’t see why you are looking deeper into it than you have to.

  • Michael

    What’s your guess?
    According to IndexMundi, “home of the Internet’s most complete country profiles,” in 2002 Iraq had only 25,000 Internet users. Unsure if this number goes up or down as the war went (and goes) on.

  • Zed

    the staff in the White House views reading blogs as part of their jobs now
    While I doubt the White House is reading me, I do get an awful lot of .gov visits

  • “According to IndexMundi, “home of the Internet’s most complete country profiles,” in 2002 Iraq had only 25,000 Internet users.”
    Well, that was before the war. Saddam only allowed special people to have internet access. The average Iraqi couldn’t get online. Salam Pax only got online because his father is a major tribal leader.
    Now internet cafes are one of the fastest growing industries in Iraq. Even little towns in the Iraqi boonies have internet cafes. Iraqis are hungry for access to the outside world after having been sequestered for 35 years, as you might imagine.

  • Maggie

    Are bloggers the ONLY ones with this story? Can anyone give me a “headsup” on MSM coverage of this meeting??????
    Good God, do I have to TRUST PJ-wearing bathroom inhabiting blogs for this propaganda?????????

  • Maggie

    OOOOOOOOOOps, I said the G word!

  • Man, am I looking forward to meeting these guys. They are heroes to me.
    Michael, whoever you are, I hope you feel better some day. I’m serious. Hoping that people like Omar and Mohammed are right makes for a better life not just for them, but for us. In our hearts I mean.

  • Michael

    Why do y’all think I’m being down on peace in Iraq or down on the President, etc? ALL I said was I don’t understand the journalistic tendancy to report one or two random people’s experience as evidentiary of something broader. I’m commenting on style, not content.
    So, for the record: I think its great that Iraqis are blogging and engaging in a public sphere of discourse. I think its great that these two guys feel safe and haven’t witnessed violence. I think its great that the President met with these guys. I think its great that Iraq might achieve a democratic government. I think its great that Harvard is hosting this blogging event Jeff has been reporting on. I think its great that we all can engage in this conversation….

  • syn

    After meeting Omar and Mohammed I can honestly say from the bottom of my heart life is so much better for us and for them.
    One way for me is that the guilt from having turned our backs on the people of Iraq, a decade ago, has been lifted. My heart is opened to being as generous and patient in giving Iraqis time to build trust and dreams.
    The brothers expressed they feel safer now than they did under Saddam. Today, Omar and Mohammed can walk with heads held high looking people in the eye without fear. They, most of all, know what it really means to be free.
    My heart is feeling the spirit, life is indeed better.

  • I wish so much that I had known they were coming to America. I would have moved mountains to shake their hands. They are true lovers of freedom with a great love of life and a great sense of humor. I hope they are having a great time in America and I hope they COME BACK so we can meet them in person. Tell them we said hello and WELCOME. Imagine that? Two Iraqi bloggers got to meet the President – how many American bloggers have? Pretty amazing.

  • I grew up in Galway, Ireland, during the “troubles” (1970 – 1985). During that time there were all sorts of bombings, assasinations, and other outrages in Northern Ireland. Or rather, in about 10 blocks of Derry and Belfast, and in much of Armagh.
    Through it all, I experienced peace and quiet, and a pretty decent childhood.
    Ireland, as an island, is much smaller than the state of Georgia, where I now live, and much, much smaller than Iraq.
    So, I can see how the man on the street opinion can be trusted. I mean, I’ve been through. I can understand how parts of a country can be utter hellholes, while the rest is pretty comfortable and happy.

  • “Only some parts of Iraq are in chaos, us relatively upper class people are just awesome Mr. President” Yes, that makes me feel better.

  • Wow, Oliver. I don’t read your blog, but I come across various comments about it, and I have to say those people are right about how peurile you are.
    We are reversing Saddam’s destruction of the marsh Arab habitat in southern Iraq. Saddam attempted genocide on the marsh Arabs. Now they can resume their 5000 year old way of life. They are very poor people, and we made their lives better in addition to all the middle class Iraqis you resent. And I bet there’s an internet cafe in some little village down there too. If not, why don’t you go start one instead of pissing on the good things other people are doing?

  • Jerry

    Oliver is one of those guys on the left thrown into dementia by two lost national elections in a row. Sour on everything. Nothing good can happen. Life is pretty much over.

  • Jerry, I call these people “Jonahs.” Jonah got very crabby when the Ninevites decided to repent and become righteous. Jonah was a self-righteous social activist who knew the Ninevites were bad guys. The fact that they were now righteous should have made him happy, but he sat under his shriveled up gourd tree and fumed. God was not amused.

  • Oliver sold out to David Brock and still lost, and beside that he still can’t get a date. Poor little dude is heartbroken, and intends to stay that way.

  • Brian H

    These are not “one or two random people”. They are extremely observant, fully involved, have contacts you and/or the CIA would die for, and are making the following point:
    Bombings and shootings draw the Western Press like an abbatoir’s garbage draws stray dogs. The rest of the country is doing very well, thank you, and your and the media’s insistance that the rotting offal is the whole story is pathetic.
    Get it?

  • Spaz

    Oliver Willis sucks. Really.

  • Eileen

    Kudos to Jeff for his involvement and influence here. My respectometer lurched skyward a few notches. (Not sitting under a tree lamenting; happy to say so.) This may be old news to many, but as a new visitor to IraqTheModel I was fascinated, heartened, jubilant.
    My best wishes for untold millions of dreams coming true. Untold on two fronts, for it Is entirely lamentable that MSM doesn’t cover the good stuff.

  • Oliver Willis is about as clever as the brightest kid in a junior highschool class.

  • Oliver Willis is about as clever as the brightest kid in a junior highschool class.

  • Well, if you want to see the real Oliver get a load of his post about my report on meeting Wolfowitz the other day:
    “Jeff says he met Paul Wolfowitz. I’m gonna assume Jeff shook his hand, which leads me to this query: did you wash the blood off right away, or did you let it set for a little bit?”
    A bit shrill, wouldn’t you say?

  • Jeff, not only is it shrill, it makes no sense. What blood is he talking about?
    (I wonder if he knows that Wolfowitz’s girlfriend is an Arab Muslim . . .)

  • Yehudit, you would win your bet above. According to one of the guys today (I think it was Omar), not only does that Internet caf

  • Faramin

    Don’t kid yourself and don’t rediculously try to fool others; not everybody is stupid enough to believe these guys who have only become tools for the dirty propaganda, represent general feeling of the Iraqis. These guys even don’t feel the unsecurity and unsafety (as you said) that majority of Iraqis do. How could they represent the general Iraqi public who live under constant threats on their lives?
    I wonder how they felt when they met the butcher of their people.

  • CharlesWT

    Hmmm…it’s getting awful crowded under Jonahs’s gourd tree…

  • too bad Rummy didnt ask the fellas if it was safe in baghdad, else he wouldnt have gone to kuwait on his recently famous outing.

  • Perry

    To the guy who said that Koreans use internet cafes: … on the contrary. S. Korea has the largest penetration of home DSL in the world.

  • Quentin

    Chuck, Greg, Michael…
    How many Iraqis have access to the internet? If the IndexMundi figure of 25,000 from before the occupation was correct, I’d guess now there are at least ten times as many, nearly all under 25-30 years of age, including the very many incidental users who go to pay terminals. We can suppose they send nice messages and less nice ones, like the aggressive, slightly smutty one I received in response to my posting towards the beginning of these comments. That was my first-ever comment on a blog, you can imagine my bitter surprise. Can anyone help to clarify Ali’s inscruable statment on that he had decided not to visit the U.S. even before his invitation had been withdrawn? What is going on here: politics?

  • Michael

    Yes, Perry, and I think its becuase the Korean gov’t mandated it like a public utility, did they not? Sounds like a good model for the US.

  • Quentin

    Of course, Yehudit. Very many things aren’t political. There can be numerous reasons why an ‘invitation’ may be selectively ‘withdrawn’ and the subject would think it pertinent to say so blogospherically.

  • Quentin

    Correction of the preceding comment: the ‘invitation’ was ‘cancelled’.

  • Quentin

    Correction of the preceding comment: the ‘invitation’ was ‘cancelled’.

  • To get a feeling for how tenuous things are in Iraq, even for these brothers, look at their December 1, 2004 post, “Securing the death road.” It sounds very scary there for them too, even if they feel like the glass is half full.

  • Mork

    It seems to me that an equally valid narrative would be that this is another example of the Administration rewarding someone for telling them exactly what they want to hear.

  • Peter G.

    Kudos to Jeff Jarvis, who is apparently reporting news that many of his frequent visitors don’t want to hear.

  • So, Jeff, are you saying Paul Wolfowitz has no blood on his hands? He bares no responsibility for what has gone on in Iraq? I understand. We should only ever talk about the good news from Iraq, the President said so.

  • Hey, the war’s going pretty well if you watch it on FOX.
    And these two guys are doing OK, and that somehow makes it easier to digest the idea of 1200 US soldiers dead with no end in sight? Infant mortality is up dramatically, we were told there would be no casualties (unless a soldier tripped over a bouquet), the road between Baghdad and the airport is unsecured, and we’re supposed to think things are going well? I’m sorry if the thrill of meeting the deputy secretary of defense was such a rush you forgot about his track record?
    Count me in the ranks of the shrill . . .

  • JOhn

    It’s been amusing to see Michael say ‘I didn’t mean what I said” or even “I didn’t say what I meant.” Maybe even, I didn’t mean what I wrote. Whatever. A snarky attack is a snarky attack. Just because he lacks the courage of his intial comments doesn’t change what he wrote. Ex post facto backpedalling doesn’t exactly encourage confidence. We know what you said. Stick by it or deny it, but don’t insult our intelligence by attempting to rewrite your intial posts/thoughts. Stick with the not so subtle ‘I hate Bush and any Iraqi who supports him’ meme…it was clearer and more obviously what you said and meant.

  • No, Oliver, I’m saying you’re shrill.
    And because you make comments difficult at your site, I’ll answer you here:
    Because Howard Dean is a loser.

  • Quentin

    I’m of an older generation and still trying to figure out what ‘shrill’ might mean blogospherically. Wolfowitz played a major part in starting the Iraq war, with some well-known colleagues, and thus bears direct responsiblity, with them, for its prosecution and results. Funny, much of the preceding comment seems to discount any such consequence of his actions, which applies even more so to Mr. Rumsfeld, in my view. I think that is all Oliver meant. Or have I misunderstood something?

  • Quentin

    By the way, Oliver posts the most recent comment at the beginning of the list, not at the end. I find his method more logical and convenient.

  • McNulty

    Oliver pats himself on the back for being shrill, but then bans anyone who gets the least bit shrill in his own comments section.
    He’s a coward, plain and simple.

  • Jeff Jarvis: “Because Howard Dean is a loser.”
    Jeff Jarvis is shrill.
    Let’s get non-shrill for a moment. Dean is the principal reason why Democrats had more money in the 2004 election cycle than they (as it turned out) knew what to do with. (You think Kerry’s non-response to the Swift Boat Veterans was bad? Try slashing his cash by two thirds or more.) Now imagine if Democrats had more money in the 2006 election cycle *and* they knew what to do with it…

  • Jay

    “According to IndexMundi, “home of the Internet’s most complete country profiles,” in 2002 Iraq had only 25,000 Internet users.”
    Well, that was before the war. Saddam only allowed special people to have internet access. (end itals which for some reason doesn’t work)

    I wouldn’t trust that figure. I think it was much less, although that’s just my guess.
    Now internet cafes are one of the fastest growing industries in Iraq.
    That’s rather like saying that a man with a net worth of $100 which goes up to $200 has a 100% increase in his net worth. True, but so what? A person whose net worth decreases from $1M to $900K is still much richer.
    Even little towns in the Iraqi boonies have internet cafes.
    Can you supply a source for this? Thanks.
    Iraqis are hungry for access to the outside world after having been sequestered for 35 years, as you might imagine.
    Indeed. And I imagine that much of their hunger is for contact with the rest of the Islamic world. See for an example.
    I was opposed to the war from the very start, but unlike many antiwar people I think that (a) the problems of the occupation are a bit exaggerated for partisan reasons and (b) democracy has a fairly good chance of taking root in Iraq, because the country is demographically dominated by Shi’a. But when this happens watch out for unintended consequences. A democratic regime will have legitimacy that Saddam lacked. The new democratic Iraq will exercise its democratic privileges to do many things that Americans (esp. Jewish American Zionists like Yehudit) won’t be pleased with. As you might imagine.

  • * Now imagine if Democrats had more money in the 2006 election cycle *and* they knew what to do with it…*
    Yes, please.
    Spend more stating the same thing, just louder. That’ll work!

  • fella, it’s damn cool – – first images and sounds (!!!) from Titan!