News The President Speaks
posted by January 11 at 9:12 AMon
The president spoke last night, and now the bullshit calling and body-language-parsing begins. As Howard Fineman says, the president looked unusually scared as he ordered more than 20,000 additional troops into Iraq:
George W. Bush spoke with all the confidence of a perp in a police lineup. I first interviewed the guy in 1987 and began covering his political rise in 1993, and I have never seen him, in public or private, look less convincing, less sure of himself, less cocky. With his knitted brow and stricken features, he looked, well, scared. Not surprising since what he was doing in the White House library was announcing the escalation of an unpopular war.
In doses of rhetoric hard to square with facts in the region, Bush portrayed the ordinary people of the Middle East as being behind U.S. goals in Iraq, in his speech to the nation Wednesday night.
And he declared the need to address Iran’s and Syria’s support for insurgents, without acknowledging his refusal to engage either country diplomatically, as many U.S. allies and the Iraq Study Group proposed.
The AP goes on from there:
Bush declared “al-Qaida is still active in Iraq” and a failed U.S. mission would give such terrorists a safe haven from which to plot attacks against Americans.
Although few quarrel with that appraisal now, it is also the case that Iraq — contrary to assertions at the time — was not a magnet for al-Qaida before the U.S. invasion.
Andrew Sullivan heads straight for Bush’s flawed premise:
The premise of the speech, and of the strategy, is that there is a national democratic government in Baghdad, defending itself against Jihadist attacks. The task, in the president’s mind, is therefore to send more troops to defend such a government. But the reality facing us each day is a starkly different one from the scenario assumed by the president. The government of which Bush speaks, to put it bluntly, does not exist.
Keith Olbermann goes straight for Bush’s credibility.
And I would like to note these lines from Bush’s speech…
Victory will not look like the ones our fathers and grandfathers achieved. There will be no surrender ceremony on the deck of a battleship.
…and this picture of Bush, taken on the deck of a battleship in 2003:
Meanwhile, there is quite a bit of alarm at Bush’s assertion that succeeding in Iraq means defending its territorial integrity, and that this…
…begins with addressing Iran and Syria. These two regimes are allowing terrorists and insurgents to use their territory to move in and out of Iraq. Iran is providing material support for attacks on American troops. We will disrupt the attacks on our forces. We will interrupt the flow of support from Iran and Syria. And we will seek out and destroy the networks providing advanced weaponry and training to our enemies in Iraq.
DailyKos sees this line as the beginning of “Bush’s Cambodia.” William M. Arking of the Washington Post also noticed the line:
If there’s anything in the President Bush’s remarks tonight that we didn’t already know or didn’t anticipate him saying militarily about Iraq, it is his evident willingness to go to war with Syria and Iran to seek peace.
Speaking about the two countries tonight, the president said that the United States will “seek out and destroy” those who are providing material support to our enemies.
It is only a threat. But it is a far cry from the diplomatic proposals floated just last month for making Syria and Iran part of the solution. Can the president really be saying that we are willing to risk war with the two countries, and even attack elements inside them, to achieve peace in Iraq?
It goes without saying that most Democrats are not on board with this plan. But, tellingly, neither is Republican Sen. Sam Brownback, one of the most conservative Republicans now running for president in 2008.