The Super Bowl Sunday Column
I forgot one absolutely apt comparison: Buddy Ryan is Don Rumsfeld. Yes, you've got a winner in town. To my surprise, no comments yet about the Iran as the new taxpayer-funded stadium joke.
THE GENERAL PROBLEM WITH IRAQ WAR
IS THAT IT RESEMBLES A CARDINALS GAME
East Valley Tribune, Feb. 4, 2007
You know how coaches, color commentators, and couch potatoes love to say football is like war? Here in Arizona, home of the allegedly professional Cardinals NFL organization, we understand that actually, the Iraq war is like football. The coaches and players keep getting blamed when it’s really management’s fault.
General George W. Casey, Jr., for the past 2½ years the commander of U.S. forces in Iraq, is the latest coach to take the fall. He’s been a good soldier, not asking for additional troops when the Bush administration didn’t want to send additional troops. He stayed on message, claiming that chaos was a good sign, that more bloodshed and violence really meant that we were winning.
Because that’s what our national version of Cardinals owner Bill Bidwill kept saying. President Bush insisted in October and November of last year that yes, we were winning in Iraq. "Absolutely we’re winning....We’re winning and we will win, unless we leave before the job is done....I believe that the military strategy we have is going to work," he said on October 25. "We got a strategy that helps us achieve victory," he said on November 3. (Hat tip: Greg Sargent)
But last week, Bush gave an interview to The Wall Street Journal editorial board. They asked him: "Was there a moment in the war when you said we have to make a major change in the way we’re doing things in Iraq?" "Yes, there was," Bush replied, "September/October." Of course, in September/October, Bush still was telling voters that we had the right strategy and were winning in Iraq -- but apparently that was just spin, trying to keep fans in the seats through the November elections.
Now following the voters’ harsh judgment in the midterms, the Bush administration and its supporters, like Sen. John "More War!" McCain -- who plays the Michael Bidwill role here (with Edgerrin James as "The Surge" and Iran as a new taxpayer-funded stadium) -- have made their previous assessments inoperative, and now proclaim, with equal fervor, that we had a terrible strategy in Iraq and weren’t winning. And guess what? It’s the coach’s fault.
Poor George Casey, the ultimate good soldier, who kept saying everything he said in line with existing administration policy -- we have enough troops, the Iraqi military and police forces are being trained and will stand up as we stand down, there are lots of empty places in the desert where there isn’t any violence -- becomes the designated scapegoat. Casey was greeted going in like the coming of Dennis Green -- a players’ coach, an offensive guru, a no-nonsense winner! -- and going out, like the fired coach, he’s undisciplined, he’s headstrong, he’s a loser.
At Casey’s confirmation hearings as Army chief of staff, McCain derided him for his "unrealistically rosy" assessments. McCain said that over the past 2½ years, "things have gotten markedly and progressively worse, and the situation in Iraq can now best be described as dire and deteriorating." Of course, that’s not what McCain was saying during that time.
In March of last year, McCain said, "I think things are getting better. I think they are progressing." In September, he described our situation as "two steps forward, one step back." Only now, Gen. Casey having finished his thankless tour of duty, has reality intruded and McCain’s view of Iraq has become "dire and deteriorating."
So we’re replacing Gen. Casey with the new fair-haired boy, Gen. David H. Petraeus, who is just like Ken Whisenhunt, the new Cardinals coach. Everybody loves him, he was successful as an offensive coordinator, he’s the opposite of his now-hated predecessor, he even plays golf! And we’ll keep loving Whisenhunt-Petraeus, until even they can’t make chicken salad out of the chicken-related substance that both the Bush administration and the Bidwill family keep dishing out.
At least there’s one bright side in this comparison. In politics, we can throw the rest of the bums out in 2008. In football, we’re pretty much stuck with the Bidwills forever.