Castles in the Clouds

Bush Administration, Iraq War

Today’s Dan Froomkin:

“I understand how some Americans have had their confidence shaken,” President Bush said yesterday in Cleveland. “Others look at the violence they see each night on their television screens, and they wonder how I can remain so optimistic about the prospects of success in Iraq. They wonder what I see that they don’t.”

Bush tried to explain. But in the end, what he provided was yet another example of what others see — and he doesn’t.

That would be reality.

People say that President Bush is a liar. I guess I implied as much in the last post. But I fear he is not lying; that he believes the stuff he spouts. Which would make him nuts.

Stupid and crazy. And POTUS. God bless America.

Eugene Robinson writes in today’s Washington Post:

This is not good. The people running this country sound convinced that reality is whatever they say it is. And if they’ve actually strayed into the realm of genuine self-delusion — if they actually believe the fantasies they’re spinning about the bloody mess they’ve made in Iraq over the past three years — then things are even worse than I thought.

‘Course perhaps they haven’t strayed into the realm of genuine self-delusion; perhaps they’ve been living there all along, and the rest of the country has been too deluded to see it. Robinson continues,

Here is reality: The Bush administration’s handpicked interim Iraqi prime minister, Ayad Allawi, told the BBC on Sunday, “We are losing each day an average of 50 to 60 people throughout the country, if not more. If this is not civil war, then God knows what civil war is. Iraq is in the middle of a crisis. Maybe we have not reached the point of no return yet, but we are moving towards this point. . . . We are in a terrible civil conflict now.”

Here is self-delusion: Dick Cheney went on “Face the Nation” a few hours later and said he disagreed with Allawi — who, by the way, is a tad closer to the action than the quail-hunting veep. There’s no civil war, Cheney insisted. Move along, nothing to see here, pay no attention to those suicide bombings and death-squad murders. As an aside, Cheney insisted that his earlier forays into the Twilight Zone — U.S. troops would be greeted as liberators, the insurgency is in its “last throes” — were “basically accurate and reflect reality.”

Maybe on his home planet.

I believe Dick the Dick has been delusional all along. By “delusional” I mean that he had a fixed idea, bordering on obsession, that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction and was fixin’ to use them in America. I think he really believed that; it wasn’t just an excuse to invade Iraq and get to the oil wells. The Dick is the one who demanded that Iraq intelligence be cherry-picked to reflect only what he believed to be true. Yes, this was to get us into a war that was about other things than WMDs. But if Cheney didn’t genuinely believe that the WMD stuff was true, he would have realized that there might be hell to pay (eventually) when the WMDs weren’t found.

And Bush only cares about Bush. As long as he is being worshipped and glorified all’s well in Bubble World.

Robinson continues,

George W. Bush, who speaks as if he has ascended to an even higher plane of unreality, marked the third anniversary of the invasion Sunday by touting a “strategy that will lead to victory in Iraq.” I know that “victory” is a word that focus groups love, but did anyone else hear an echo of Richard Nixon’s “secret plan” to end the war in Vietnam? Does anyone else remember that there was no “secret plan”?

It’s bad enough when our leaders are cynical or clueless, Robinson says,

But cynicism and cluelessness are one thing. Actually being divorced from reality is another. Do Bush et al. really see only the democratic process they have installed in Iraq and not the bitter sectarian conflict that process has been unable to quell? Do they realize that whatever happens, there’s not going to be a neat package, tied up with a bow, labeled “victory” — certainly in the 34 months (but who’s counting?) that the Bush administration has left in office?

Via Froomkin — Gail Russell Chaddock writes in the Christian Science Monitor that on Capitol Hill, “many of the war’s vigorous defenders are looking for guidance outside the Bush administration on how to move ahead.”

Exhibit A is the quiet launch of an independent, bipartisan panel to bring “fresh eyes” to the Iraq conflict. Last week, the House included $1.3 million in a defense funding bill for the panel, which will work out of the congressionally chartered US Institute for Peace here. …

… The move to develop alternatives to Bush administrative briefings signals a growing distrust on Capitol Hill for the “closed circuit between people sitting inside the Green Zone and the ‘good news’ being sent back to Washington,” says Mr. Luttwak. “Congress is discovering that the Bush administration is repeating its own propaganda – and believes what they are saying.” [Edward Luttwak is a senior adviser at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.]

Josh Marshall describes an exchange between Bush and Helen Thomas in which Junior tries to revise history. Bush said this today:

I also saw a threat in Iraq. I was hoping to solve this problem diplomatically. That’s why I went to the Security Council; that’s why it was important to pass 1441, which was unanimously passed. And the world said, disarm, disclose, or face serious consequences … and therefore, we worked with the world, we worked to make sure that Saddam Hussein heard the message of the world. And when he chose to deny inspectors, when he chose not to disclose, then I had the difficult decision to make to remove him. And we did, and the world is safer for it.

Josh:

Of course, that’s not what happened. We were there. We remember. It wasn’t a century ago. We got the resolution passed. Saddam called our bluff and allowed the inspectors in. President Bush pressed ahead with the invasion.

His lies are so blatant that I must constantly check myself so as not to assume that he is simply delusional or has blocked out whole chains of events from the past.

Here’s a recent editorial from the Louisville Courier-Journal:

Nearing the third anniversary of the disastrous and unnecessary decision to invade Iraq, the President was still citing stale themes during a speech last week. While acknowledging “tense” moments, he proclaimed progress is being made.

“We will not lose our nerve,” he said.

Well. This isn’t about nerve, of course — America’s armed forces have shown plenty of that, despite incompetent civilian leadership — and the public has been remarkably patient. What is at issue is whether the President’s perception of progress is real or delusional.

Hmm, I think a theme is emerging here —

… tough talk is useless if it’s hollow, and neither Congress nor the American public, for painfully obvious reasons, would follow George W. Bush into another war.

Iran, presumably, knows that as well as anyone.

Ah-HEM, yes. I ‘spect they do.

Update: See Michael Stickings, “Fantasy and Reality After Three Years in Iraq“: “Americans are being led by a cadre of the delusional.”

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17 Comments

17 Comments

  1. Edward Deevy  •  Mar 21, 2006 @8:32 pm

    Anyone who closely followed the news during the months leading up to the invasion is aware that Bush and Cheney were obsessed by the idea of regime change in Iraq. For Bush now to say that he didn’t want to go to war is a bald-faced lie…or the man is delusional. Maybe this is what he needs to believe for his own sanity…given that so many innocent lives have been lost.

  2. Swami  •  Mar 21, 2006 @8:35 pm

    I disagree with your assessment of Cheney, Maha. He’s a lying and conniving scroundrel who is well aware of his lies. He might be delusional in some respects, but not delusional enough to actually believe there where WMD’s( mushroom cloud?).. Cheney’s deceptions where worked in conjunction with other conspirators, which shows that he was aware that he was marketing a lie about the WMD’s.. They all knew they were perpetrating a lie on the American public and they knew that even if that lie was uncovered the American people couldn’t do anything about it other than grumble. As the case has proven to be..

  3. Swami  •  Mar 21, 2006 @8:44 pm

    Oh wow, I meant to write were and mistakenly wrote where…Boy, my spelling is attroshus.

  4. alyosha  •  Mar 21, 2006 @10:07 pm

    It’s difficult to know what Bush really believes. He was a pathological liar in his youth – as explained by one of his Harvard Business School professors who came forward to talk about it. In school, Bush would say one thing, and then only a minute later deny ever having said it – he acquired a reputation for this. The article recounts Bush’s nastiness and penchant for vengeance against anyone who challenged or embarassed him.

    And so we have a President who will literally say anything he needs to say. Weenies are like this. What he really believes inside, if he believes anything other than his need to rule, to be a favored son of privilege above all else, is an open question. IMO he thinks it’s his divine right to say anything he wants. I recall a comment he made on 60 Minutes years ago, which made my jaw drop then, about how as President he doesn’t have to explain himself.

  5. Bonnie  •  Mar 21, 2006 @11:19 pm

    Bush is a liar. It is a fact that has so much evidence proving it that I have no qualms on making such a statement. It seems to me that the only time he isn’t lying is when he keeps his mouth shout. And, not wanting to go to war–give me a break. Methinks, he doth protest too much.

  6. smith9898  •  Mar 21, 2006 @11:45 pm

    Again Bush lied when he said that he never said hussen was not tied to ALQuaida not true. At the same time not one reporter question W on this mistake. It seems as though his explanation for victory are secret just like Nixon secret plan for VIETAM did not have a plan for vietnam.

  7. inthehighlands  •  Mar 22, 2006 @1:12 am

    Without going too far into the specifics of the post, I’d really just like to compliment you for bringing the pieces together on this. Very well crafted, good sourcing, and a very good point. Posts like this are the reason I read blogs, for the sort of amazement I feel when reading something that might not otherwise be so clear. Seeing the forest over the averagely mundane outrages that seem to vie so frequently for attention nowadays. Thanks.

  8. BC  •  Mar 22, 2006 @1:55 am

    Bush has to lie to himself in order to lie to everybody else.

    He’s basically a method actor. He knows he’s no good as a president, but he comforts himself with the fact that he’s been able to get more people to swallow more and bigger lies than anybody else in history.

  9. maha  •  Mar 22, 2006 @6:23 am

    He knows he’s no good as a president

    I don’t think he knows that at all. I think he believes he belongs on Mount Rushmore.

  10. Jeff R  •  Mar 22, 2006 @8:27 am

    Allow me to “piggyback” on the comment by inthehighlands: nobody is better than Maha at weaving the different threads of a story together so that things make a lot more sense. It’s why I link to this blog at least once a day, one of only four or five such in my “favorites” list.

  11. Donna  •  Mar 22, 2006 @8:30 am

    Shattering into screams……that is what I imagine to be the fate George W. Bush’s war-mongering torture promoting law-destructing soul when someday he passes out of body.
    I have heard it said that once we die, nothing stands between us and the full truth of what we have wrought, not one’s lies nor pathetic ‘good intent’, certainly not some egoistic self-image of deserving to be on Mount Rushmore, certainly not rovian spin nor Cheney machinations.
    Instead of Bush pretending and posturing that he does all his evil to ‘protect America’, Bush should have a thought about protecting what may be left to redeem of his shriveling soul.

  12. coal_train  •  Mar 22, 2006 @1:33 pm

    Being delusional lets them off the hook too easy. What they are doing is much worse. They are prolonging the war to protect their own asses. Withdrawal would be an admission that this war never should have happened and was run badly. Bush and Cheney consider withdrawal to be an admission of defeat, and they know that people who start wars and lose them are not treated kindly by history or criminal courts. Just as with Saddam and Slobodan, war criminal types will go to their graves defending their actions as justified.

  13. Britwit  •  Mar 22, 2006 @3:28 pm

    Do you remember Peter Sellers character, Chauncy Gardener, in one of his very funny films. I think his character became President. He was beyond delusional and everyone thought that he was brilliant. This is what Bush believes; he thinks that everyone believes that he is brilliant!

    If you saw his performance yesterday, you can understand why his key people don’t want to give him bad news. The guy might be quite mad!

  14. cheinz  •  Mar 22, 2006 @4:17 pm

    The interaction with Helen Thomas was priceless. She did NOT say that Bush went to war because he wanted to. Those were his words, when what she asked was simply WHY did you.
    Tho dost protest to much. He actually gave no answer to the question. The most important question of the decade!!!!!

  15. Frank Wilhoit  •  Mar 22, 2006 @6:50 pm

    Much of what Mr. Bush says is neither true nor real. That much is a commonplace, but it does not make it useful to pigeonhole him as a liar and/or a nut. What he is is a storyteller. Now, please, turn your head away from the stage and look instead at the audience.

  16. Swami  •  Mar 22, 2006 @7:19 pm

    Hey Nitwit, Just because we’re spending 6 BILLION dollars a month in Iraq, doesn’t mean we own it.. It’s always nice to retreat into a world of fantasy to create strategic scenarios that pump up a low self esteem, but I gotta tell ya…Iraq is a lost cause and America is already starting to get a reality check on Bush’s adventurism in the middle east. Lay off the Kool-Aid!

    Math quiz…America is spending $200,000,000.00 dollars a day in Iraq. If America stays until the end of George Bush’s second term ( January 2009), how much money will America spend to lose in Iraq from now until then?

  17. erinyes  •  Mar 22, 2006 @7:33 pm

    Hey Swami, I think your post shouda been under the next heading…great blast to the nitwit anyway….sick ’em Swami!!
    Regarding comment 12,I wish Bush’s daddy would have considered withdrawing 56 or so years ago, JEESH!!
    I NEVER thought we’d have a man this fucked-up running the world, this is one baaaad acid trip………