Cross posted from Article of Faith:
So we have this story which says “the White House said Tuesday that President Bush would delay presenting any new strategy for Iraq until early next year, as officials suggested that Mr. Bush’s advisers were locked in internal debates on several fronts about how to proceed.”
And then we have this story which suggests “President Bush has decided the general direction he wants to take U.S. policy on Iraq and has asked his staff to work out the details as he wraps up a highly public review of the war and its aims.”
Only not until next year, apparently. And why is the Iraqi Vice President pictured saluting our troops in that Times piece? Oh, I see: “The message to Bush, the defense specialist said, is that the U.S. cannot withdraw a substantial number of combat troops by early 2008, as suggested in the Iraq Study Group report, because the Iraqis will not be ready to assume control of their country. Bush is delaying making public his new Iraq policy plan in part to allow officials to work out the funding, he said.”
It’s not so much a salute as it is a “whew…that was close.” Looks like this “listening tour” is just like the president’s previous listening tours (both the run-up to the invasion of Iraq and his stem-cell “soul-searching” tour in the summer of ’01). Or in other words, the Doofus in Chief has made up his mind already.
Not only are the ISG’s recommendations going to be ignored (“screw you, daddy!”), but Bush is actually going to go all McCain on us and increase the troop levels, forcing a showdown with the newly elected Democratic Congress.
And that’s what this boils down to: it has absolutely nothing to do with the men and women fighting and dying over there, nor any kind of strategery for getting out of Iraq. It has everything to do with politics. Rove is no doubt telling Bush to increase the troop levels and dare the Dems to de-fund this catastrophic misadventure, ala Vietnam, so they can be painted “weak on tara” and the Republicans can win back the Congress in ’08.
Or in the converse, if Bush calls for more troops and the Dems go along, the Republicans can say the Dems are just as complicit (ala the Iraq War Resolution) for this catastrophe, thereby neutralizing it as a cudgel with which Republicans can further be beaten.
My recommendation to the Dems is simple: Force him to set a deadline for total withdrawal in exchange for his brief increase in troop levels. If Bush calls for an open-ended increase (without a serious timetable to get out), go to the American people, tell them “we heard you,” and pull the fookin’ plug.