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The Vietnamization of Bush's Vacation


The New York Times
By FRANK RICH
Published: August 28, 2005
ANOTHER week in Iraq, another light at the end of the tunnel. On Monday President Bush saluted the Iraqis for "completing work on a democratic constitution" even as the process was breaking down yet again. But was anyone even listening to his latest premature celebration?

We have long since lost count of all the historic turning points and fast-evaporating victories hyped by this president. The toppling of Saddam's statue, "Mission Accomplished," the transfer of sovereignty and the purple fingers all blur into a hallucinatory loop of delusion. One such red-letter day, some may dimly recall, was the adoption of the previous, interim constitution in March 2004, also proclaimed a "historic milestone" by Mr. Bush. Within a month after that fabulous victory, the insurgency boiled over into the war we have today, taking, among many others, the life of Casey Sheehan.

It's Casey Sheehan's mother, not those haggling in Baghdad's Green Zone, who really changed the landscape in the war this month. Not because of her bumper-sticker politics or the slick left-wing political operatives who have turned her into a circus, but because the original, stubborn fact of her grief brought back the dead the administration had tried for so long to lock out of sight. With a shove from Pat Robertson, her 15 minutes are now up, but even Mr. Robertson's antics revealed buyer's remorse about Iraq; his stated motivation for taking out Hugo Chávez by assassination was to avoid "another $200 billion war" to remove a dictator.

In the wake of Ms. Sheehan's protest, the facts on the ground in America have changed almost everywhere. The president, for one, has been forced to make what for him is the ultimate sacrifice: jettisoning chunks of vacation to defend the war in any bunker he can find in Utah or Idaho. In the first speech of this offensive, he even felt compelled to take the uncharacteristic step of citing the number of American dead in public (though the number was already out of date by at least five casualties by day's end). For the second, the White House recruited its own mom, Tammy Pruett, for the president to showcase as an antidote to Ms. Sheehan. But in a reversion to the president's hide-the-fallen habit, the chosen mother was not one who had lost a child in Iraq.

It isn't just Mr. Bush who is in a tight corner now. Ms. Sheehan's protest was the catalyst for a new national argument about the war that managed to expose both the intellectual bankruptcy of its remaining supporters on the right and the utter bankruptcy of the Democrats who had rubber-stamped this misadventure in the first place.

When the war's die-hard cheerleaders attacked the Middle East policy of a mother from Vacaville, Calif., instead of defending the president's policy in Iraq, it was definitive proof that there is little cogent defense left to be made. When the Democrats offered no alternative to either Mr. Bush's policy or Ms. Sheehan's plea for an immediate withdrawal, it was proof that they have no standing in the debate.

Instead, two conservative Republicans - actually talking about Iraq instead of Ms. Sheehan, unlike the rest of their breed - stepped up to fill this enormous vacuum: Chuck Hagel and Henry Kissinger. Both pointedly invoked Vietnam, the war that forged their political careers. Their timing, like Ms. Sheehan's, was impeccable. Last week Mr. Bush started saying that the best way to honor the dead would be to "finish the task they gave their lives for" - a dangerous rationale that, as David Halberstam points out, was heard as early as 1963 in Vietnam, when American casualties in that fiasco were still inching toward 100.

And what exactly is our task? Mr. Bush's current definition - "as the Iraqis stand up, we will stand down" - could not be a better formula for quagmire. Twenty-eight months after the fall of Saddam, only "a small number" of Iraqi troops are capable of fighting without American assistance, according to the Pentagon - a figure that Joseph Biden puts at "fewer than 3,000." At this rate, our 138,000 troops will be replaced by self-sufficient locals in roughly 100 years.

Even though their own poll numbers are in a race to the bottom with the president's, don't expect the Democrats to make a peep about the war in Iraq.

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I don't usually agree with him but even he has realized that Sheehan has been made into a circus by the leftist clowns. "Not because of her bumper-sticker politics or the slick left-wing political operatives who have turned her into a circus"

Gee, I thought Cindy Sheehan was doing a pretty good job of whipping the "leftist clowns", among others, into some semblance of coherent order along her own lines. She's sure got the beltway Democrats worried about coming up with an "Iraq Policy" that their primary candidates can support without looking like utter fools.

Arvy, you are 100% correct! Mrs. Sheehan is not a circus. She is a consistent voice being heard by more and more Americans of good will who are slowly appreciating how she has uncovered the lies and deceit of the PNAC, Bush & Co. cabal.

There is no left wing conspiracy at work here. That is just more right wing bullshit being pumped out because the righties can not afford to speak and/or accept the truth. When your whole power structure is based on lies how can the truth be anything of assistance to your plan?

Bush tries to employ the term "cut and run" to characterize the so-called left wing anti-war movement. It is just another meaningless catch phrase from his stable of right wing speech writers. There never is, never was, or never has been any truthful substance to anything that comes out of Bush's mouth!

By the way, on the NYT website this morning there was a link to a story about Judy Miller's incarceration having reached 55 days and calling for her release. The Times is trying to paint her as a martyr. Guess what? Judy should rot in that cell for her part in the Bush fiasco in Iraq! Special Prosecutor Fitzgerald and the Federal Judges have put her in jail for one good reason and that is because she knows the who's, the what's the where's of a lot of criminal activity in the administration and she is trying to avoid testifying to protect very high level members of the administration. These "sources" she claims to be protecting are really criminals and if you read the opinions on the case for her incarceration you will see that protecting a suspected criminal is not privileged. It is more akin to OBSTRUCTING JUSTICE!

Judy gets and should receive no sympathy from anyone of good will in this country until she comes clean. This is her ticket out of jail;
JUDY, TESTIFY!

Why is heart felt support and honest dialogue a circus?
Your writing is inaccurate. Why do people who have no direct relation to this war, except to make a living wagging about it, carry so much weight? Lets hear from the people. Screw the wags left and right.
Its time regular people got a voice, especially Military Families and our Veterans. Their experience is real, not fanciful or idealogical projections typed in some office in New York or wherever.

The press is criminally culpable for this war. Where were they when all the lies were being told about why we had to go to war? Where have they been while this administration has been ruining America?
Why haven't they exposed rove's vicious smear campaigns; cheney's war profittering, or the theft of billions? How about Delay & Hastert's scandals? The MSM is next to useless. What about their circus?

The free ride is over. No one is buying your ridiculous newspapers anymore. Its time the people took back control of the public airwaves. Screw the wags left and right, especially chicken hawks like Novak, and Krauthammer. Boycott the MSM. Who needs it?

It's power to the people FOREVER! (Thanks Cindy, for your initiative)

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