What else can you conclude when a bunch of draft-dodging holier-than-thous only now realize that the war on Iraq is on everybody's mind?
The lessons drawn by a variety of Bush advisers inside and outside the White House as they map a road to recovery in 2006 include these: Overarching initiatives such as restructuring Social Security are unworkable in a time of war. The public wants a balanced appraisal of what is happening on the battlefield as well as pledges of victory. And Iraq trumps all.
"I don't think they realized that Iraq is the totality of their legacy until fairly recently," said former congressman Vin Weber (R-Minn.), an outside adviser to the White House. "There is not much of a market for other issues."File that one under "Duh!" It really leaves me wondering if Bush and his cohorts really thought they could veer off of the war on al-Qaeda and go attack a dictator who seemed to make a career of taunting American Presidents with impotent remarks -- and still be able to just go in and push a right-wing agenda against the poor, all the while embarking on the biggest pork feeding frenzy in the history of the world.
Lord knows the Republicans LOVE their pork.
Of course, the knee-jerk response called for by Karl Rove -- the man who saw 9/11 as an opportunity for partisan political exploitation -- was to simply attack and smear anyone who dares criticize the president.
Rove, Republican National Committee Chairman Ken Mehlman and White House strategic planning director Peter H. Wehner urged the president to dust off the 2004 election strategy and fight back, according to officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity to share internal deliberations. White House counselor Dan Bartlett and communications director Nicolle Wallace, however, counseled a more textured approach. The same-old Bush was not enough, they said; he needed to be more detailed about his strategy in Iraq and, most of all, more open in admitting mistakes -- something that does not come easily to Bush."I made a mistake." hehehehe. "Whaddayagonnadoabowdit?" hehehehe.
Although Rove raised concerns about giving critics too much ground, the younger-generation aides prevailed. Bush agreed to try the approach so long as he did not come off sounding too negative. Peter D. Feaver, a Duke University specialist on wartime public opinion who now works at the White House, helped draft a 35-page public plan for victory in Iraq, a paper principally designed to prove that Bush had one.Pretty sad at that. How interesting it's written by a PR man, not a military specialist. How cynical.
When Rep. John P. Murtha (D-Pa.) proposed pulling troops out of Iraq, the White House issued an unusually harsh and personal response comparing him to liberal filmmaker Michael Moore. The original draft, officials said, had been even tougher.Decorated Marine veteran. Populist filmmaker who never saw service. Sure, same difference.
The humility theme was woven into speeches, often in the first two minutes to keep viewers from turning away. Aides had noticed that anger at Bush after Hurricane Katrina subsided somewhat after he took responsibility for the response. The idea, one senior official said, was like fighting with a spouse: "You need to give voice to their concern. That doesn't necessarily solve the division and the difference, but it drains the disagreement of some of its animosity if you feel you've been heard.""Sure, dear, I hear that you're upset. Now let me produce this 35-page document that proves why you're wrong and I'm right."
No one in the White House expects the speech to include anything of the magnitude of Social Security. As one aide put it, instead of home runs, Bush will focus on hitting singles and doubles. "The lesson from this year," said Grover G. Norquist, a GOP activist close to Rove, "is you cannot do anything dramatic unless you have 60 votes" in the Senate, where Republicans are five shy of the count needed to break a filibuster.I assume that means policies short of drowning the government in a bathtub. What with how the Republicans have made government bigger than ever before, with massive budget and trade deficits, it would have to be a pretty big bathtub these days. Maybe the global warming that Bush and Cheney claim doesn't exist will be able to do it.
Despite the gain in polls, some advisers see trouble ahead. Bush's top aides are telling friends they are burned out. Andrew H. Card Jr., already the longest-serving White House chief of staff in a half-century, is among those thought to be looking to leave. Rove's fate is uncertain, as he appears likely to remain under investigation in the CIA leak case, people close to the inquiry said.
Some are concerned that although Bush has changed his approach, he has not changed himself. He has been reluctant to look outside his inner circle for advice, and even some closest to Bush call that a mistake because aides have given up trying to get him to do things they know he would reject.Ah, but God talks to Bush. We have to remember that. Bush hears God's voice in his head, and then marches out and sends American troops and spends American treasure and destroys American credibility -- all the while feeling righteous and holy.
If only God actually were talking to Bush!