The White House Jive

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Bush Administration, Congress, Iraq War, Republican Party

Yesterday we learned the “surge” isn’t working. Big surprise. Today, Eugene Robinson says the White House is pulling a bait-and-switch.

White House spokesman Tony Snow was purposeful on Wednesday in stomping, trampling, tap-dancing upon and otherwise giving a definitive beat-down to any expectations of a serious, fact-based reassessment of Iraq policy in the fall. Never mind that the White House raised those expectations in the first place.

The September scenario has been a rhetorical mainstay for the administration and its supporters, a major argument for ignoring all the bad news from Iraq and giving Bush’s troop escalation a chance to work. Let’s wait for Gen. David H. Petraeus, the man who’s now running the war, to submit his progress report. At that point, went the White House argument, the “way forward” would become clear.

The fog of war seems to have closed back in. “I have warned from the very beginning about expecting some sort of magical thing to happen in September,” Snow told the White House press corps, whose collective recollection was somewhat different. “What I’m saying is, in September you’ll have an opportunity to have metrics.”

Just doin’ the White House jive.

This is not about what’s good for America, or for Iraq. It’s not about bringing Democracy to anyone. It’s not about victory. It’s not even about defeating terrorism.

It’s about Bush’s ego. It’s about keeping troops in Iraq as long as he is President so he doesn’t have to admit he has failed.

I’ve said many times that the whole point of the “surge” was to short-circuit support on Capitol Hill for the Baker Iraq Study Group plan. The ISG plan, tepid as it was, might very well have been supported by a veto-proof majority in Congress. If it had, it would have meant that Bush no longer had total control of the U.S. military action in Iraq. And that’s the one and only reason the ISG was kneecapped by the White House.

Now, my suspicion is that at least some Democrats in Congress realize this. I can’t prove it, but I believe it to be so. They just don’t think they have the political capital to come out and say “the President of the United States is a psychopath.” So they keep making speeches about how they hope the President will see reason and start playing well with others, knowing full well he’s not capable of either. These speeches are not for Bush, but for the media and the constituents.

There’s not much else the White House can do to postpone the inevitable except kick the can down the road, and they hope they can keep kicking that can until January 2009. You might recall that less than a month ago the White House was talking about a “post-surge” strategy. And this “new” strategy, as explained by David Ignatius, sounded remarkably like the same shit that was in the old “Strategy for Victory” they trotted out in December 2005. And that strategy was just the same old talking points, warmed over, that they’d been repeating since, oh, about summer of 2003, as I recall.

But this most recent “new” strategy was run up a flagpole just about three weeks ago, and I guess no one saluted. It was so lame even the hawks didn’t pay much attention to it. The terminally clueless David Ignatius wrote on May 22, 2007 (this year, note):

The post-surge policy would, in many ways, track the recommendations of the Baker-Hamilton report, which senior administration officials say the president now supports. It also reflects the administration’s recognition that, given political realities in Washington, some policy adjustments must be made. The goal is an approach that would have sufficient bipartisan support so it could be sustained even after the Bush administration leaves office in early 2009.

Notice they even tried to package the “post-surge” plan as something like ISG Lite (less filling! tastes great!) just to increase its marketing appeal, even though it resembled the Baker-Hamilton report about as much as a table resembles a horse.

Senior officials discussed the outlines of a “post-surge” policy late last week in what they said was an effort to build bipartisan support from Congress and the American public. Their comments appeared to be a trial balloon aimed at testing whether a Baker-Hamilton approach could gain traction in Washington. The description of a post-surge policy focused on elements that Democrats say they would continue to support, such as training the Iraqi military and hunting al-Qaeda, even as they set a timetable for withdrawing combat forces.

As I said, it was so lame, and so obviously just the same old hash in a new can, that even Republicans in Congress brushed it off. So now in less than three weeks the White House has gone from talking “post-surge” to kicking the surge can further down the road. It’s all they’ve got left.

Every now and then someone will demand to know what Petraeus could possibly say in September that will make a dime’s worth of difference to anybody. And the answer is, nothing. The “September strategy” never had anything to do with what Patraeus might say. It’s all just theater.

Waiting for General Petraeus’s September report is a bit like watching the first act of Il barbiere di Siviglia and waiting for the bass/baritone playing Figaro to trot out and sing “Largo al factotum.” Except without the orchestra, of course. You know exactly when he’s supposed to enter and every note he’s supposed to sing. The only question is whether he can get through all the “Pronto prontissimo” stuff without tying his tongue up in knots. It’s just a role, in other words.

I see that Arianna Huffington is writing about Petraeus ex machina. I think it’s closer to say the role was originally envisioned to be ex machina, but the script is already in rewrite. Whatever he says, Bush supporters will spin it as “preliminary” and the detractors will say enough is enough. Harry Reid is already calling Petraeus “out of touch.”

I say the real drama is doing on in the head’s of Republicans in Congress. Will they stand by Bush, or cut him loose? They’ve got the summer to think it over and make up their minds. The bloodshed, of course, continues.

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9 Comments

9 Comments

  1. xpara  •  Jun 15, 2007 @5:22 pm

    Start a war as a crafty political ploy and maybe you will have no idea what you started or how to end it. And maybe you will not care since the point of the exercise was your own exultation and that, as far as your yellow, lying, pathetic, slacker, chickenhawk, spoiled rotten ass is concerned, is that.
    Sure the neocons planned the war almost from 1991 on. AIPAC, oil, greed, manly posturing by pudgy dodgers, all part of the motives. But what pushed it into reality was Rove’s desperation to keep the public baffled with the bullshit that the psychopath playing president in the White House had some huevos bigger than a gnat’s patootie and even some manly competence. That should have been a hard sell considering that Bush and his lackeys ignored the real threat for eight months until the brother of an old family friend in need struck on 9/11. And, oh yes, Bush’s public wet-panty panic as he sat stunned with fear in that Sarasota classroom before bugging out to an H-bomb proof bunker in Nebraska while Washington remained under attack.
    They created a trap for the cowardly and confused Democrats and euchred them into voting for Bush’s war to make the voters ignore his disgraceful performance and total lack of noblesse to go with his bloated sense of oblige. The respectable press was just as AWOL as the opposition. The bought-and-paid-for opinion spouters were already enrolled.
    We went to war for Bush votes folks. Face it. Have they every done anything, anything at all, that was not almost purely politically motivated?
    This makes them worse than comitted tyrants, worse than fascists, worse than Stalinists. Those people had real world motives, no matter how criminal, how base. But this crew: They are frivolous fucks blithely ruining their country for their profit and their political advantage. And since they are psychopaths, they have absolutely no sense of shame about it.

  2. Swami  •  Jun 15, 2007 @5:34 pm

    Davey’s got a PhD..not only that, he wrote the book on counter-insurgencies. Bush has got a royal flush in Davey. Nothing tops a PhD who wrote the book on counter-insurgencies. No doubt that Davey is deus ex machina.. we knew that from the start because he wrote the book on counter-insurgencies.

  3. erinyes  •  Jun 15, 2007 @5:58 pm

    About a year ago the Lancet stated that about 650,000 Iraqis have been killed since the invasion of Iraq. Our Military has now lost over 3,500 killed, an unknown number maimed. US “Contractor” deaths and maimed remain unknown. “We” have spent nearly a TRILLION dollars.

    All this because the POTUS had a hard on for Saddam Hussein.
    Think about that, especially those monitoring this site that might be CIA, NSA, FBI, or God knows what other spy agency exists that we don’t know about.

    If this administration is allowed to conduct “business as usual” for the next year and a half, kiss your ass good-bye.
    They gotta go, boys and girls, and they’ve gotta go soon.
    The world can’t afford to allow this to go on, it WILL spill over into Iran, Turkey, and beyond (Pakistan, a NOOKULAR power ) if this shit is allowed any longer.
    You all know I’m right, they must be removed and imprisoned ASAP.As I said before, Bush is like a cross between J.R.Ewing and Charlie Manson, crazy as a sprayed bug. He’ll go far, and the sooner, the better.

    My dream is that Bush, Cheney, and all their buddies get sentanced to life in the Baghdad Green Zone (Sans the military protection).

  4. moonbat  •  Jun 15, 2007 @6:22 pm

    America and the world at large is aching for someone to call “Bullshit” on this phony political kabuki. The Democrats, particularly those running for President, have all summer to to prepare for what we all know Petreus and his boss are going to say. Will they stand up to the bully Bush or will they crumble? Stay tuned.

  5. Swami  •  Jun 16, 2007 @12:10 am

    Harry Reid is calling Davey Petraeus out of touch? Doesn’t he mean untouchable?.. Davey has been given the keys to the kingdom. No decision on Iraq can be made until Davey says so. Davey has neutered all opposition.. which is only right because genius generals can’t arrive at a proper conclusion if they are constantly being pressured by impatient idiots and surrendercrats who lack a comprehensive understanding of military matters.

    In keeping with the proud slogan of the vintners Ernest & Julio Gallo who will sell no wine before it’s time..General Petraeus will made no decision before it’s time.

  6. Zeus  •  Jun 16, 2007 @4:07 am

    Lil’ Bush

  7. the talking dog  •  Jun 16, 2007 @5:17 pm

    The whole premise of handing this off to Petraeus was that HE (with his Ph.D…. from Princeton, is it?) had a measure of credibility– that he would HONESTLY provide an assessment of just how well or poorly things are going in Iraq, and if Petraeus, one of the (sadly few) military commanders of a sector of Iraq whose performance could be rated a pretty-good-success tells us there is reason to believe we can achieve “victory” (whatever the f*** that is) or stability, or, hell, anything that doesn’t result us pulling out in a (1) nationally humiliating and (2)(a) regionally and (b) globally destabilizing manner (that will drive petroleum over $200/bbl faster than you can say “tactical nuclear weapons against Iranian underground weapons facilities”)… well, let’s just say he was sold as the great white hope (as it were) to the Carl Levins and Diane Feinsteins and Steny Hoyers of the world, who were just looking for some reason to change the subject without having to hear about “not supporting the troops”.

    The word that matters is in all caps above. If, in fact, Petraeus can be co-opted (or threatened, or bought, or whatever) into not being that word, and instead, being a shill for the Administration, which, I fear might be what is happening, then, as usual, the Dems have been played: two of the three Dem “front-runners” (1) voted for the Iraq War (2) without even bothering to read the National Intelligence Estimate (John and Hillary, you know who I mean) with Dodd and Biden there as well)… which means that they remain vulnerable on the War, on all sides…

    Which means if Bush has managed to kick the ball down the field to September based on selling Democrats a (ridiculous) bill of goods that if things were hopeless that Petraeus would be “honest and straightforward enought” to tell us (because, after all, he has that Ph.D.!!!)… let’s just say… “we’ve” been played yet again.

    Because Gen. Petraeus has already told us that “he sees astonishing signs of normalcy” in the war-torn s***-hole that, well, cause one to question… everything… let’s just say we already anticipate that rosy report from him come September justifying continuing The SurgeTM, damn the costs, damn the casualties, and most importantly, damn the Democrats.

  8. Swami  •  Jun 16, 2007 @10:31 pm

    You don’t have to be a pyschic to figure out what Petraeus is going to say in September. Of course he’s going to say..” well, I guess we should back it in and head on home because Bush just flubbed it so bad that there’s no hope of victory. It’s a lost cause”

    General Betray-us has to be true to his role, and his role is to prolong Bush’s inevitable date with failure..2009 or Bust?

  9. Swami  •  Jun 16, 2007 @10:51 pm

    Oh yeah, another thing.. The righties are hawking Patraeus as the grand master who wrote the book on counter-insurgencies. The problem with that is that insurgencies, like warfare, are not static, they are dynamic. There is no book to be written, and if there is a book that has been written…all it can contain is pap and filler, shit of no consequence, the same nonsense that qualifies someone as a terrorist expert..illusion. America, You’re getting hosed with this tinsel laiden clown with the PhD. Petraeus might be a nice guy in real life, but he’s nothing more that a place holder, a prop in the position he’s been appointed to fill. He’s a shill.



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