Bush determined to prolong lost war
By JOSEPH L. GALLOWAY
The time for bumper-sticker bombast, sound-bite strategizing and gotcha politics as practiced by the politicians who infest the nation's capital needs to end right now, at least where it intersects with the disaster that is the Iraq War.
There's no high ground left to capture by either a stubborn president who won't see or hear the truth about where his path to "victory" in a lost war really leads, or the new Democratic majority in Congress, which is too timid and fearful of doing what they were elected to do - bring an end to the war as swiftly as possible.
While the politicians - a pox on all of them - wrangled and dithered and bloviated American troops were dying at record numbers on the bomb-blasted roads and streets of Iraq. The month of April saw 104 American soldiers and Marines travel home in flag-draped coffins, out of sight of the cameras and the American people in whose name they died. It was the sixth highest monthly death toll of the war.
This past week was a circus of the ridiculous as President Bush went on television every day threatening to veto a bill providing the billions needed to continue to prosecute his war - only the second veto The Decider has exercised in his six years in power - on grounds that the Democrats were trying to substitute the judgments of politicians for that of the military commanders on the ground.
Bush's daily diatribe overlooked the fact that the politicians of his administration had shoved their own flawed judgments down the throats of our military commanders every day since planning of the invasion began early in 2002.
The Democrats had already tinkered with their war-funding bill to remove mandatory guidelines for the beginning of troop withdrawals, making them more of a suggestion than an order. But that wasn't enough for the president, who demanded a "clean" bill with only the money he wanted to continue the war.
The moveable deadline for some determination of whether the president's surge, or escalation, of U.S. troop strength in Iraq moved yet again as our commander Gen. David Petraeus told Congress that it would probably be September before we had a good idea whether the new-old strategy was working or not.
And if that strategy is not working when September rolls around? That would not mean the war was over, administration officials hinted. They will think up something else to try.
The president is determined to continue the war, no matter what, until he can safely hand over the whole mess to whoever succeeds him on Jan. 20, 2009, no matter the cost in American and Iraqi lives.
The Democrats in Congress want to end it, but fear stepping into a Karl Rove bear trap that leaves them open to charges that they abandoned U.S. troops on the battlefield without the money to fight.
They don't want to end up on the wrong side of that bumper sticker that says "Support Our Troops" with the 2008 election coming up fast.
This overlooks the fact that the greatest possible support for our troops, in the situation at hand, would be to get the growing number of young American men and women out of the line of fire in a religious civil war that Bush and his minions unleashed with an unthinking and inept leap into the quagmire that is Iraq and the Middle East.
If the American people buy this final Roveian lie and go to the polls next year believing it was the Democrats who failed our soldiers by ending the war, including by cutting off all funds for that war, then we deserve the government we get.
Bush - who vetoed the Iraq funding bill on the fourth anniversary of his infamous "Mission Accomplished" speech that declared an end to combat in Iraq on an aircraft carrier off San Diego - seems ever-more divorced from reality as he heads into the final 20 months of his time in office.
The bumbling incompetence of his appointees and cronies, not to mention their corruption, is revealed by the day. His lawyer buddy from Texas, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, can't remember anything he did or didn't do in his busy days at Justice. The White House can't remember what it did with 5 million e-mail messages. Rove, the president's brain, and GOP political appointees throughout government didn't remember that the Hatch Act prohibits doing political work on government time and in government facilities.
Perhaps, with the passage of the years, the American people will be able to forget that they voted in a president and an administration that visited so bitter a harvest and so sordid a legacy on them. Not once but twice.