Reidblog [The Reid Report blog]

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Tuesday, December 12, 2006
The descent
George W. Bush is losing it. The signs are all there. He's stubbornly refusing to acknowledge, at least publicly, that his policy in Iraq has failed. He is only forcibly listening to the Iraq Study Group, military leaders, news reports and hell, at this point, Jesus himself could tell him that we're losing in Iraq and he would brush him off with one of those snarky wink and head nod things. Bush seems to be holding out for someone who will join him in unreality and tell him that there is still a way to win in Iraq, or as the new Bushspeak goes, to achieve "success." It isn't going to happen, Dubya. It's over. Deal with it. Start drinking again if you have to.

From the New York Daily News:
In 72 hours last week, a bipartisan commission harshly repudiated Bush's Iraq policy. Incoming Secretary of Defense Robert Gates told senators the U.S. isn't winning the war. Then a British journalist snarkily asked at a White House press conference if Bush weren't "in denial" about Iraq.

For good measure, a new poll found only 27% of Americans back his Iraq policy, a new low. And a moderate GOP senator termed the policy "absurd" and possibly criminal.

"He'll be fine but he can't be doing very good," said a well-placed Bush source who talks with the President often. "It's been a terrible year, and it keeps getting worse."

Yet Bush is described by another recent visitor as still resolutely defiant, convinced history will ultimately vindicate him.

"I'll be dead when they get it right," he said during an Oval Office meeting last week.

Another Bush confidant, however, says the President reluctantly understands an Iraq course correction is mandatory:

"He is determined not to let Iraq go up in smoke and start a slaughter. But he knows something's got to give here. It just has to. We're going to start a pullout. The only question is when."

Despite the Democratic takeover of Capitol Hill and the steady cavalcade of grim news from Iraq, White House chief of staff Josh Bolten and political guru Karl Rove are busily overseeing Bush's State of the Union address, scheduled for Jan. 23.

Outside Republican sources report that except for isolated pockets of realism, the West Wing bunker hasn't yet absorbed Bush's diminished power.

"The White House is totally constipated," a former aide complained. "There's not enough adult leadership, and the 30-year-olds still think it's 2000 and they're riding high."

One White House assistant insisted to a friend last week that the election was merely a repudiation of Bush's execution, not his policies.

"They don't get it," a GOP mandarin snapped. "The Iraq report was their brass ring to pivot and salvage the last two years, and they didn't grab it."

Even if the chaos in Iraq subsides, prospects for other Bush accomplishments in the twilight of his term are difficult at best.

"Short of doing something on Iraq, there's not much good he can do anymore," a key Bush adviser conceded.

A senior Republican official who enjoys excellent relations with the White House was even more downbeat.

"We will get an immigration bill, and the President will make a valiant but doomed attempt at entitlement reform," he said. "But we are looking at two frustrating years of gridlock and several foreign policy failures."
And about Bush's meeting yesterday with former generals, including Barry McCaffrey and war hawk Wayne Downing, the WaPo reports:
President Bush heard a blunt and dismal assessment of his handling of Iraq from a group of military experts yesterday, but the advisers shared the White House's skeptical view of the recommendations made last week by the bipartisan Iraq Study Group, sources said.

The three retired generals and two academics disagreed in particular with the study group's plans to reduce the number of U.S. combat troops in Iraq and to reach out for help to Iran and Syria, according to sources familiar with the meeting, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the session was private.

The White House gathering was part of a series of high-profile meetings Bush is holding to search for "a new way forward" amid the increasing chaos and carnage in Iraq. Earlier in the day, Bush met with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and other high-ranking officials at the State Department, where he was briefed on reconstruction and regional diplomatic efforts in Iraq.

The military experts met with Bush, Vice President Cheney and about a dozen aides for more than an hour. The visitors told the officials that the situation in Iraq is as dire as the study group had indicated but that alternative approaches must be considered, said one participant in the meeting. In addition, the experts agreed that the president should review his national security team, which several characterized as part of the problem.

"I don't think there is any doubt in his mind about how bad it is," the source said.

The group disagreed on the key issue of whether to send more troops to Iraq, with retired Gen. John M. Keane arguing that several thousand additional soldiers could be used to improve security in Baghdad, and others expressing doubt about that proposal, according to sources at the meeting. But the five agreed in telling Bush that the Army and Marine Corps both need to be bigger, and also need bigger budgets.

Meanwhile the carnage continues in Iraq, Baghdad robbers pull off a $1 million robbery and the president's poll numbers on his handling of the war continue to slide into the abyss, according to new polls by CBS News and ABC News/Wapo.

Tags: President Bush, Bush, news, Iraq, Iraq Study Group, James Baker, war, News and politics, Current Affairs
posted by JReid @ 10:18 AM  
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