Monday, October 30, 2006

Meet the New Plan, Same As the Old Plan

That was my proposed headline, but the editor's substitute (the regular editor was at the Freedom Newspapers libertarian re-education camp in Orange County) was more partisan. The newspaper version is here. Over the next 9 days, it's worth it to keep repeating exactly how badly these guys have blown it.

East Valley Tribune, Oct. 29, 2006

President Bush has officially cut-and-run from “stay the course.” As The Washington Post’s Peter Baker reported, “A phrase meant to connote steely resolve instead has become a symbol for being out of touch and rigid in the face of a war that seems to grow worse by the week” -- and that’s according to Republican political consultants.

Just as Oceania has always been at war with Eurasia, Republicans are now claiming that they’ve never wanted to “stay the course.” Hello, flexibility; goodbye, steely resolve and unerring gut instinct. Those latter qualities are so last month.

White House spokesman Tony Snow said all those previous “stay the course” statements are now inoperative, claiming that “What you have is not ‘stay the course’ but in fact a study in constant motion by the administration.” He wants us to believe that George W. Bush has become a dutiful student of reality, constantly tinkering with tactics and methods. And if you believe that, send me your money for Arizona Cardinals playoff tickets.

Bush isn’t changing tactics, or rethinking strategies; he’s only repeating new slogans for the same old slop. They’ve tried all this stuff already -- targets, troop reductions, into and out of and back into Baghdad -- and it’s all failed. Shouldn’t they at least put new lipstick on a different pig once in a while?

President Bush’s strategy for Iraq has had more sequels than the "Police Academy" movies -- and just like those sequels, it’s the exact same plot, with the exact same results; only the titles change, slightly.

Polls show that the American people are way ahead of the Bush administration and their GOP enablers in Congress. Republicans may hope otherwise, but a large majority has realized Bush, Dick Cheney, and Donald Rumsfeld don’t just lack a plan; they don’t have a clue.

Every step of the way -- relying on bad intelligence, rushing to war, not assembling a real coalition, not having nearly enough troops to maintain civil order, trying to convert wacko Heritage Foundation policy papers into the Iraqi legal system, disbanding the Iraqi army, failing to restore services, sending Republican hacks to staff the occupation, not adopting counterinsurgency tactics until too late, building permanent bases, not making training Iraqi military and police a priority -- well, you get the idea, every step of the way, Bush has gotten it wrong.

These are basic, fundamental, and huge mistakes, which war supporters can’t avoid with stupid Tet offensive analogies. If you “win the war but lose the peace,” you’ve lost because in both football and foreign policy, winning the first half doesn’t count; you have to win the whole game. Bush supposedly winning the war but losing the peace mirrors how the Cardinals “won” the first half but only lost the second against the Chicago Bears. Check your Clausewitz (“war is the continuation of politics by other means”) and the NFL standings if you don’t recall how that actually turned out.

Recounting the administration’s mistakes (and their insistence that this time the same formula will work, if we only trust them!) isn’t just merely rehashing what happened three years ago. First, the folks saying we should avoid “recriminations” are the same ones who spent years investigating and obsessing about sex in the Oval Office, leading to impeachment, the nuclear option of politics. Recriminations were just fine, back then.

Second, it’s Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld -- cheered on by GOP congressional incumbents -- who drove this car over a cliff (scroll down to Oct. 26). Now that even Bush has to acknowledge that things aren’t going quite swimmingly, they’re turning around to the Democrats stuck in the backseat and demanding that we come up with a better idea of what to do.

Well, the first idea is we should change drivers. You want an election to be a referendum on national security? That’s the first point of a two-point Democratic platform: We’re not the people who screwed up Iraq. The second point? Vote for us and you’ll be able to take toothpaste on airplanes again.

Sounds like a plan to me.

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