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Our political elite is in paralysis'
Posted on Thu, Sep. 29, 2005
Our political elite is in paralysis'
BY PATRICK J. BUCHANAN
President Bush is in big trouble, and so are we. In this town, there is barely disguised glee that the president so badly bumbled the rescue-and-recovery operation post-Katrina that he has lost the aura of a strong, decisive leader.
Democrats and their coalition partners in the media are gloating that Bush's fumbling proves them right: He is the fortunate son who is beyond his depth in an office he would not have won had it not been for his name, connections and a friendly Supreme Court. The piling on begins to grate, but that is the nature of politics. When Nixon was mired in Watergate, Reagan in Iran-contra and Clinton in the Monica mess, Washington was whistling Happy Days Are Here Again.
67 percent disapprove
But even if Bush is in trouble, why are we? It is not because his approval rating has plunged to 40 percent, the nadir of his presidency, but because support is evaporating for a war upon the outcome of which hangs America's position in the Middle East and the world.
According to a CNN/USA Today/Gallup Poll, 67 percent disapprove of how Bush is prosecuting the war. Only 32 percent approve. Three in five think that America made a mistake going in. Close to two-thirds think we should start withdrawing troops now.
By a CBS/New York Times poll, only 7 percent of the nation is willing to cut domestic spending to pay for this war, only 20 percent is willing to raise taxes. A majority of Americans wish this war had never happened and would just go away.
How, then, does Bush, for the 3 ½ years left to him, persuade the American people to keep spending the blood of their soldiers and the treasure of the nation to fight it?
Undeniably, there is progress. The enemy is suffering losses. U.S.-trained Iraqi troops are more often taking the initiative. As for victory in Tal Afar, a Turkmen city, the Iraqi troops we assisted were apparently Kurds, which further inflamed Turkey, our estranged NATO ally.
War could end badly
Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal, here last week, put no gloss on Riyadh's alarm. Iraq is hurtling toward a civil war that may become a regional war, he said, with Iran intervening to aid the Shiite, Turkey attacking the Kurds and Sunni Arab nations aiding their dispossessed and embattled Sunni brethren. ''All the dynamics are pulling the country apart,'' he said.
Though most Americans have lost confidence in Bush as a war president and believe that the war was a mistake and we should start bringing our troops home, no elected leader of national stature is demanding an end to U.S. involvement or a new policy for victory.
Our political elite is in paralysis. Sen. McCain talks of more troops, but has not broken with Bush on his refusal to send them. Sen. Feingold calls for a withdrawal timetable, but passed on the antiwar demonstration in Washington last weekend.
Critics fear this war could end badly, if not disastrously, for the United States. No one wants to say anything that can be used to substantiate a future charge of having given aid and comfort to the enemy in a time of war and helping to ensure an American defeat.
40 months to go
Both parties bear moral responsibility for the mess we are in. The Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld Republicans for beating the drums for war on a country that did not threaten us. The Clinton-Kerry-Biden-Edwards Democrats for giving Bush a blank check to take us to war to remove the issue from the 2002 election.
Now Bush's legacy as well as this country's standing as a world power and its vital interests in this oil-rich region are riding on the outcome.
Does Bush have a plan to win? Or a plan to cut our losses and end our involvement in a way not ruinous to the global economy or America's position in the Persian Gulf and Middle East? In that CBS/New York Times poll, 75 percent of Americans said that he has no plan. Yet, he is president for the next 40 months.
Yes, we are all in this boat together, and it is taking on water.