Cut and Stroll?

By Too Conservative

I’ve been travelling a fair piece from Virginia this week and will be some of next. I don’t know whether to feel deprived or blessed that I’m missing the two weeks running up to the Elections. I don’t watch much television even when I’m home, but I’m sure one advantage of being a few time zones away is that I’m missing a lot of negative adverts.Â

Thanks to the time difference, I did have the advantage of watching President Bush’s appearance early this this morning before going to work.  The tone and content showed far more candor and publicly-revealed situational awareness than I have ever seen out of the civilian side of the Administration. It seems to be an inescapable facet of modern staff-work that this President always is getting hobbled by semantic burdens (“timetables” are bad, “benchmarks” are good, and the two should never be confused). Our definition of conditions of “victory” now seem to have shifted to a “self-sustaining” Iraqi government (we’re giving up on New England-style town meetings, I think).  Gone were what our friend, James Atticus Bowden, frequently and aptly refers to as “Wilsonian” riffs that drive a lot of us nuts in the Iraqi context.Â

This kind of talk would have meant much more if it had come a long time ago, particularly not two weeks before an election that seems to be going badly. The people around the president, people who have given him appallingly bad advice for approximately five years (anything post-November 2001), apparently have decided (long after most of the rest of us) that when all the hype and spin about this adventure fails, a little candor may be the only option available. I must say I prefer governments that start from that position, rather than those that end up there after all else has failed to bedazzle the electorate.

It will be interesting (and possibly amusing) to watch the candidates, particularly the ones who barked and clapped like trained seals in the early days of the Iraqi excursion and in the early days of this campaign, try to conform to the signal the President was sending today about how to talk about what is a very difficult issue with no easy solutions.   (The e- blast talking points aren’t as simple as hurling “cut and run” at your opponent).Â

Thirty minutes of relatively straight talk from the President isn’t a policy and it isn’t a cure, but it is, like the joke about 200 lawyers at the bottom of the ocean, a good start.

PS: Now that I’m in a place where I’ve got some connectivity, I see that our colleague, Loudoun Insider, kicked off a great chain on this subject (last week’s casualties in Iraq). A lot of sincere, thoughtful comments. For those who expressed amazement that Republicans (gasp!) could have a thoughtful dialogue on this subject, be assured that there is a vigorous debate on this among us.  Iraq isn’t a reflection of Republican principles, it’s a case study in echo-chambered group think, hugely amateurish intelligence analysis, macho posturing, poor planning, incoherent geopolitical sensibilities, and general incompetence.  Democrats and Republicans ought to come to the issue with a view to helping the country get through with minimal long-term damage. I fear that if we have the predicted major realignments in the Congress, the resulting focus will be a retrospective blamefest between now and 2008, rather than the best minds of both parties trying to find programs and policies that best serve the interests of the Republic.


Comments

  • Citizen Tom says:

    While it is pleasant when it happens, politics does not lend itself to thoughtful discussion. Politics is about deciding who we put in charge. Politics is how we choose the nature of our society. Politics is about the cultural struggle for dominance.

    Reflect for a moment on the ferocity of violence during the Civil War. In comparison, the invective and mudslinging we associate with an election campaign is delightfully peaceful, thoughtful discussion. We should thank God when He gives us the grace and humility to decide upon our leaders with ballots instead of bullets.

  • NoVa: I’ve been thinking about writing one op ed since June 03. Seriously. It bothers me every week. But, I put it off because it won’t serve its purpose – or so I tell myself.

    The op ed, the usual 750 words limit, is “What Bush Shoulda Said.”

    The problem about what I think Bush shoulda said about invading Iraq, deposing Saddam, running the Occupation, standing up a new government, defining victory for the month, year and decade for what might happen in Iraq, explaining the conditions to take military action and the likely consequences elsewhere in the world on another day, etc… is that what he shoulda said isn’t what he coulda said. Not as President. Not for a foreign and U.S. audience.

    Maybe I still should write the piece and share what all Americans shoulda known (wink, wink, nudge, nudge) when the President talked about democracy, yada, yada in Iraq and war against those who ‘hate our freedom’ (that one always cracks me up).

    I, too, don’t understand who has said what to the President since 9-11. I assumed that wise grown-ups were part of VP Dick Cheney’s network. I woulda (like shoulda coulda) thought that he would have heard from late 02 to fire Rumsfeld and passed that on. For sure from the Summer of 03 – fire Rummy and know what fight(s) your in -in Iraq before you fix them. I just don’t get it.

  • NoVA Scout says:

    Great comment, JAB. I don’t think they “hate our freedom,” I think they hate us.

Leave Comment