Saturday, December 09, 2006

Bush's Stubbornness Continues

It's ironic that Bill Bennett is still defending the president. Bennett has a small gambling problem and it seems he wants the president to go for double or nothing on a failed policy in Iraq. The media may still take seriously the ultraconservatives still defending George W. Bush but the American people have caught on to an incompetent president and the brazen war-mongering of his diehard supporters in the media who would like to see an expansion of the war. Incompetence is a hard thing for ultraconservatives to confront in themselves.

There's a growing chorus across America and the message is this: Bush must change direction and discard his failed foreign policy. Democrats and independents have come to that conclusion for some time and a growing number of Republicans, including five Republicans that were part of the Iraq Study Group, have come to the same conclusion. It should be noted that James Baker III and others in the group have a track record of competence. The president does not.

The Democrats have their hands full with the Decider-in-Chief and will have to do what the previous Republican-controlled Congress failed to do: get the president to return to the reality-based universe and if he refuses to accept the obvious, increase the pressure, hold hearings and step by step hold him to account. The Iraq Study Group report has slammed the president for his failures and we now wait for him to come to terms with the calls for change. The early signs from the president are not good as reported by William Douglas and Margeret Talev of the McClatchy Washington Bureau (hat tip to Think Progress):
Top Democrats in Congress left a White House meeting with President Bush on Friday frustrated over what they perceived as his reluctance to embrace major recommendations from the bipartisan Iraq Study Group.


Bush said he talked about "the need for a new way forward in Iraq" in his morning session with leaders from both parties and chambers of Congress, "and we talked about the need to work together on this important subject."

But some Democrats came away unconvinced that major changes were coming.

"I just didn't feel there today, the president in his words or his demeanor, that he is going to do anything right away to change things drastically," Senate Majority Leader-elect Harry Reid, D-Nev., said following the Oval Office meeting. "He is tepid in what he talks about doing. Someone has to get the message to this man that there have to be significant changes."

Instead, Bush began his talk by comparing himself to President Harry S Truman, who launched the Truman Doctrine to fight communism, got bogged down in the Korean War and left office unpopular.


Durbin said he challenged Bush's analogy, reminding him that Truman had the NATO alliance behind him and negotiated with his enemies at the United Nations. Durbin said that's what the Iraq Study Group is recommending that Bush do now - work more with allies and negotiate with adversaries on Iraq.

Bush, Durbin said, "reacted very strongly. He got very animated in his response" and emphasized that he is "the commander in chief."

We have learned from previous episodes, that when Bush gets animated, he tends to be something other than presidential. Bush apparently believes that if he metaphorically jumps up and down and throws a tantrum, he can change the subject. But our nation is now in a crisis and Bush is directly and unavoidably in the center of it. And standing behind him, of course, is Dick Cheney.

Bush's comparison of himself to Truman is largely absurd. For one thing, Truman did not start the war in Korea; and to put it bluntly, when the Chinese crossed the North Korean border later in the war, Truman was trying to stop World War Three from happening, not encourage it.

Bush's tirades and rambling rhetoric are getting tiresome; his arrogance has simply become a pathetic shield to avoid change as well as responsibility for his failures. Bush has compared himself to Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, Franklin Roosevelt, Winston Churchill and now Truman. His strange megalomania is not a pretty sight to behold. But the pressure on Bush must continue. There is no other choice but to rein in the most incompetent and reckless president in our nation's history.

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Anonymous S.W. Anderson said...

Ironically, despite the fact they won the midterm election in a big way and now control Congress, Democrats aren't likely to be able to do the reining in. It's going to be up to Republicans, especially those Bush trusts and likes, and those he feels he can't be seen as blowing off.

This inescapable fact adds greatly to the precariousness of our situation.

The right mix of Republicans will have to talk to Bush privately, the way several GOP senators went to the White House to tell Nixon it was all over and that he had to resign. These Republicans from Congress can urge, plead and cajole, but they'll undoubtedly have to serve notice that they're prepared to join Democrats in rendering him inert until he makes substantial changes.

If nothing else, that kind of showdown would give Bush cover with Cheney, who I suspect is even more resentfully determined to stay Bush's failed course than is Bush himself.

One thing's certain. Bush isn't being swayed all that much by public opinion. He's had disastrous poll numbers for a long time now and has rationalized them away. Remember, his conception of being commander in chief and The Decider is that he won four years to do as he damn well pleases, and until his time's up, that's what he's going to do. It's a sort Grand Prizewinner approach to being president, and it's harebrained. But, that's George W. Bush.

11:03 PM  
Blogger Craig said...

S.W., your analysis is an excellent one. It's one of three or four scenarios I see possible for reining in Bush. Republicans in Congress will definitely be important but generally it's unlikely to be the hardcore right wingers who will be involved.

Bush is trying to blow off the Baker report but it's done him more damage than he realizes yet. If Bush can't be reined in, it's possible he'll still be reduced to limping for the next two years: dangerous but somewhat contained and somewhat unable to damage the United States further.

1:01 AM  

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