From Joshua Micah Marshall: The most salient point to emerge from the president’s recent speech…
Originally, the case for war was built on claims about the Iraqi regime’s possession of weapons of mass destruction and its support for terrorist groups like al qaida. To a lesser degree, but with increasing force as these other rationales faded way, the case was made on the basis of democratizing and liberalizing Iraq.
As that prospect too has become increasingly distant and improbable, President Bush has taken a fundamentally different tack. His emphasis now is seldom on what good might come of his Iraq policy but rather the dire consequences of its unmitigated ‘failure’ or its premature abandonment.
In other words, the president now argues that he is best equipped to guard the country from the full brunt of the consequences of his own misguided actions, managerial incompetence and dishonesty.
I think Marshall makes a good point here. And I don’t think swing voters are going to buy this latest Bush argument. Joe Klein has a column in the latest issue of Time that talks about Bush’s (and Kerry’s, though that’s a different sort of animal) disconnect from reality these days: A simple cure for Iraq fatigue. An excerpt:
The fact is, America’s sense of itself has taken a stunning blow. We are still recovering from the last week of April, when the Abu Ghraib photos were revealed and the U.S. military chose not to fight the Islamic radicals in Fallujah (a retreat compounded by last week’s decision not to pursue Muqtada al-Sadr’s Mahdi Army). Taken together, those events represent a coherent pattern of behavior — that of a schoolyard bully, who tortures the weak and runs away from the strong. This is, sadly, the way Abu Ghraib and Fallujah are perceived by our enemies. I was traveling through the Middle East as some of these events unfolded, and so the embarrassment I felt was direct and intense. The experience has been more oblique for most Americans, if no less intense. Think of the images — not just the torture photos but also the Saddamite general riding proudly into Fallujah and, of course, the beheading of Nicholas Berg. This is, literally, the stuff of nightmares; it is difficult to assimilate emotionally. And neither the President nor John Kerry seems able to acknowledge the souring American mood.
Bush’s presidency has been an objective failure in pretty much every area, and swing voters have figured that out. If it weren’t for the possibility of an October Surprise, I’d say the election was essentially over.
Oh well. You win some, you lose some. Bush probably won’t have too much trouble dealing with this latest failure; he’s had plenty of practice. His whole personality is built around the need to deal with such failures.
I’m sure he’ll find a bright side. Like, maybe he’ll get to keep Saddam’s pistol.