Monday :: Oct 13, 2003

Bush Fights Perception That He's Lost Control


by Steve

Following on the heels of the idea put forward by pessimist in the previous post, take a look at several stories and comments from key senators on the chatfests yesterday. Bush wakes up this morning to see that all the hard work by Rice, himself, and Pacemaker Dick to proclaim that everything is in control in Iraq and their critics are all wrong has now been washed away by assertions that Bush has lost control of his foreign policy and his minions are running a slush fund.

In stories from both the Post and CBS News, the Sunday chatfest coverage lays out the theme that Bush is not in control of his Iraq policy and that the inmates are running the asylum. Dick Lugar hit Bush for the fact that several members of the administration all said different things about Iraq in just one week.

In the first week of the administration's public relations campaign to explain its Iraq policy and highlight its achievements, Lugar noted that Vice President Cheney, Secretary of State Colin L. Powell, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and Rice had given speeches whose tone "was distinctly different" and that senators were rightly concerned about "the strength, the coherence of our policies."

The CBS News and AP interpretation of what was said Sunday was more blunt:

President George W. Bush has lost control of Iraq policy because of infighting among administration officials, the leaders of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee said Sunday.

“The president has to be the president, over the vice president and over these secretaries,” the chairman, Republican Sen. Dick Lugar, said during a broadcast interview.

Added the committee's top Democrat, Sen. Joseph Biden: “There's no clear articulation within this administration of what the goals, what the message is, what the plan is. You have this significant division within the administration between the Powells and the Rumsfelds.”

Both Biden and Lugar mentioned Cheney's speech last week, presented as a part of an “information offensive” by the administration to counter what it sees as unnecessarily negative media reports about the Iraq postwar situation.

Lugar called it “very, very tough and strident.” Biden said Cheney's desire, shared by Rumsfeld, is “to undermine international institutions because they feel it's a drag on our capability.”

Joe Klein in Time Magazine flat out says that Bush’s cabal is dysfunctional.

Add to that the nugget that Fred Kaplan of Slate found, whereby Rummy has a $9 billion slush fund hidden in the $87 billion request for Iraq, and other bad notions come to mind about this regime, aside from the lack of vision and control.

But give Bush credit; while critics say his administration is out of control, Bush says today it isn’t, and things are going well in Iraq. He plainly says that if people don’t like the job he is doing, then they’ll find someone else.

Of course the families of the three US soldiers killed in Iraq over the last 24 hours would dispute how well things are going.

All of the efforts of the White House over the last week to spin how well things are going in Iraq are flatly being challenged by both the Senate and the media. If Bush is losing the battle to maintain the message, any bump in the polls such as the one he got from the CNN/USA Today/Gallup Poll may be illusory, especially when other polls show his support still stuck at the low 50's.

Steve :: 3:31 PM :: Comments (15) :: Digg It!