Staying In The Bunker
Reuters photo yesterday of the latest Bush requirement: the "Butt-Sniff" homage
Despite signs of failure and incompetence all around him, George W. Bush gives every indication that he will retreat into the bunker and run out the clock for the remainder of his term. Case in point was yesterday’s trip to a screened audience for a “town hall”, reminiscent of the staged events that Bush did in early 2005 in front of the adoring cultists to sell his Social Security privatization plan, events that were stacked with Stepford Republicans who asked their scripted questions in the most worshipful ways possible. It happened again yesterday, even though neither the New York Times’ Jim Rutenberg nor the Washington Post’s Peter Baker had the guts to call these events for what they were: pep rallies to prop up a leader who still stumbled and rambled so much that his stability was in question.
Bush says he has “full confidence” with his doomed AG, meaning that Justice will die from within as the Congress constrains the agency from doing anything at all these last twenty months. As for the war, the Pentagon has given up trying to “stand up” the Iraqi forces, and is now accepting the reality that it will be American forces that have to rid the country of sectarian violence and Al Qaeda simultaneously, a mission that Congress never sanctioned. Despite the talk from Robert Gates this morning about pegging our troop levels to Iraqi political progress, the administration has abandoned plans to train the Iraqis to stand on their own, and now only wants to see the Oil Law out in place as a first step towards any decision about a withdrawal. So training the Iraqis is now out, but keeping Americans in Iraq to die in a civil war to ensure Big Oil’s access to Iraq’s oil is the plan that many of suspected was the policy all along.
Contrary to the assurances from this White House that the surge was a temporary effort to give the Iraqis breathing room, this means that the administration has decided to sacrifice American forces not for a surge, but now to actually fight the civil war for the Iraqis without them being required to achieve their own political and military benchmarks as recommended by the Iraq Study Group, and in total detachment from the Iraqis’ intention to take over security by the end of 2007. As it becomes more clear over the summer that the surge is now a con job sold on a false premise by this White House back in January, and that General Petraeus is now tasked with winning a civil war with an occupation force in the absence of a internal or external political bridge building, Congress will take control of the war this fall if for no other reason than political survival next year.
Democrats have backed down for now on any requirement for a withdrawal timeline tied to the supplemental, allowing Bush to get his money with no strings. But this temporary victory by the White House will only buy them political time while scores more of our soldiers die this summer fighting a civil war, in defiance of American public opinion. When the fall budget debate over the Defense 2008 appropriation begins, even vulnerable GOP incumbents next year will be forced to make a choice between sticking with a man in a bubble who is occupying a foreign country fighting a civil war against public opinion, or voting with the Democrats to put the Bush foreign policy into receivership. At that point, Bush will be a totally isolated man in the bunker riding out one the worst presidencies ever.