Thursday, January 11, 2007

Bush's Latest Desperate Effort to Get Traction

Just a couple of thoughts related to Bush's speech and the "new strategy" for Iraq:

1. After the speech, Chris Matthews on MSNBC seemed deeply impressed by the fact that the president accepted "responsibility" (though without consequences) for any "mistakes that have been made" (by persons unnamed). Sorry, but this is way, way too late to be relevant, let alone impressive. Matthews invoked a comparison to JFK, who took public responsibility for the failed Bay of Pigs invasion. Let's compare, shall we? The Bay of Pigs fiasco began on April 15, 1961 and had totally collapsed by April 19. Kennedy's speech accepting responsibility was made the following day. Kennedy did not wait almost four years, then grudgingly and indirectly admit his errors. He admitted them immediately. That's the difference between a man and a weasel.

(If you want an apt historical comparison for Bush's "confession," don't look to JFK but to Pete Rose, who indignantly denied betting on baseball for fifteen years, then confessed in a desperate ploy to sell copies of yet another ghost-written memoir--his fourth, I think.)

2. This morning, Bush appeared before troops and families at Fort Benning to sell his escalation plan. The response was cool. This is not surprising, considering that one of the biggest selling points Bush offered went like this:
The American people say, well, you tried [a troop increase] before -- and we did. They said, what went wrong, what's different?

Well, what's new about this plan is there will be enough troops to clear, build and hold, and that our troops will be able to move alongside the Iraqis without political interference, and that's very important. It's important for our troops to hear, and it's important for the American people to know, this is new. This is something different that enables the military folks to predict that we will succeed in helping quell sectarian violence in Baghdad.
Imagine that you are an enlisted man in the audience, or his wife or his dad. You may have already lost buddies in Iraq. Now, almost four years into the war, the president informs you that, until today, the US forces were fighting while hobbled by "political interference"--apparently with the knowledge and acquiescence of the administration.

Would you feel like cheering?

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