Washington Post Op-Ed columnist E.J. Dionne Jr. nailed President Bush with his column this morning, highlighting the foam and air in Bush's recent "arguments" against a timetable for Iraq.
The president's comments this week were less measured. "I will strongly reject an artificial timetable withdrawal," Bush said, "and/or Washington politicians trying to tell those who wear the uniform how to do their job."
Let's parse that statement. The notion that Congress has an "artificial timetable" suggests there must be such a thing as a "natural timetable." But what would that be? Presumably, the president would reply: when we achieve victory. But what is the definition of "victory" in the murky mess we're in? The administration offers only generalities that lead us nowhere.
And it's beyond chutzpah for a politician who has lived at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. for more than 2,280 days to attack "Washington politicians." Didn't Petraeus get his orders to pursue the surge from a certain Washington politician otherwise known as the commander in chief?
Dionne goes on to filet some of V.P.Cheney's recent Random Acts of Mindless-ness, and then addresses the White House's chances of success using their tactic of attacks...
What Bush and Cheney are doing is not just wrong. It's dangerous. If they were interested in success in Iraq, they would have turned down the partisan rhetoric long ago. A substantial majority now opposes their policies. The last thing the administration needs is more polarization, which clearly has not worked in its favor.
The president needs to convince Americans that a decent result in Iraq is still possible. Above all, he needs to answer the essential question: If we shouldn't have timetables now, how long does he think we'll need to keep combat forces in Iraq? Two years? Five years? More? And to what end?
President Bush is providing no answers for the American People. Congress says we want a timetable, and Bush says "no" and then attacks Congress as being unpatriotic. Congress says "how much more time will it take?" and Bush says "I don't know" and then has his lap dog Cheney attack.
Bush is acting against the wishes of the American people, and the sentiment in favor of withdrawing from Iraq has been increasing. Sooner or later he will recognize his error in prolonging this war further, but it now appears that he will be the very last person in the country to admit that fact.
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