I am trying to figure out what Bush will say Tuesday evening at Fort Bragg. I think this speech is bigger than any speech Bush has ever given and this is where I believe he will stumble, and we will see the beginning of the end. My guess is that like a tragic hero (except of course Bush is no hero- but I'll cast him in that role for any idiot who thinks he deserves the title) he cannot see his own Achilles heel. The people (and I also use that term rather loosely) he has surrounded himself are people who have only hammers. Every problem then is treated like a nail, even if it isn't. I see the Tuesday evening speech as an opportunity to ease everyone's fears about Iraq. But try as I may, I cannot figure out what exactly he will offer that won't make him and his advisors feel that they are somehow a sign of weakness.
I predict Bush and Rove will make a HUGE mistake. read on. let me know what you think.
I suspect the speech will be filled with lots of Bushisms and Rovian platitudes. He'll mention that we have "liberated 50 million people", he'll tell us that our goals are pure, spreading democracy and freedom in the Mideast. He may give us a litany of accomplishments. He may tell us that he removed a dictator. He may remind us that Freedom is on the march. He may even have a purple finger.
A genuine person would easily overcome the main problem of credibility. Bush and his surrogates, lacking sincerity, won't admit to any error in the face of the most obvious errors. In the news conference with Rumsfeld and Senator Edwards, Rumsfeld will not call it a Guerilla war. "It's not a guerilla war...it's an insurgency," he insists and corrects. Mr. `Known unknowns and unknown unknowns' and the rest of the Bush Administration are missing something. Not just the ability to tell the truth, but as a Poker player or a stand up comic knows- it's the ability to read the room. The insult of calling a guerilla war an insurgency shows the depth of the disconnected world the inner circle lives in. I would ask Rumsfeld if the semantic choice of `insurgency' versus `guerilla war' meant that the 72 dead American kids this month were any less dead? The secondary problem but no less important issue is the effect this is all having on the armed forces. How can you even address this when the Secretary of Defense parses `insurgency' versus `guerilla war'? That doesn't begin to touch the misspent US tax dollars there, the fact that the standard of living in Iraq is less than it was two years ago. You can't discuss what color to paint the walls when the other person thinks there is no house there at all. My guess is, and it's only a guess, Americans want to see results and they are not seeing them. Americans want to put Iraq behind us and the Bushies want to wave in front of everyone perpetually.
Bush will not change course. At the end of the day he might as well have a Mission Accomplished sign behind him.
To the rest of the public, and increasingly to the lazy US press, it is this exact insistence that everyone else and things are really OK is wrong is exactly what is meeting resistance. The public sees a different reality on the internet than they see on ABC, NBC, MSGOP, and CBS. Hell blogs are doing more research and fact-finding just to pressure the networks to tell the whole. The Downing Street Memos were only addressed because bloggers made the lazy press wake up. The facts of the case presented by a global news network expose us to different sides that we may not have heard. The families of those serving, the families of those hurt and wounded know a different story. The hundreds of thousands of people who are their friends know a truer account of what is going on. The natural intelligence of people who begin to connect the dots of a much bigger picture paints of rictus of distrust onto the face of America.
Eventually the truth seeps in. Rather, it has in fact seeped in.
So the word on the street is that Iraq is Nowhere'sville. Kids of recruitment age distrust the reasons for it and the accomplishments of it. They feel no passion for this war. Kids see little heroism the way they did when we invaded Afghanistan. Now Bush will thumb his nose at what the foreign press thinks, but I believe that most Americans do in fact care what foreigners think about us. Most Americans are truly upset that we are no longer the knights in shining armor to the world- instead; we are the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. It bothers us that we have lost that status.
I think all Bush would have to say gain any credibility is that its bad in Iraq and they are looking for ways to fix it. But Cheney and Rove's consistent pronouncements that seem to defy reality, the reflex to attack any critic, attacking critiques that are personal and degrading not reasoned or at all intellectual, the obviously contrived uniformity of the message all seem beyond what reasonable people would think and feel.
Another major mistake the Bushies are not paying attention to is callousness, even if it is only the appearance of callousness: Rove's depiction of Liberals as soft on terrorism despite the many Democrats and Liberals serving, the exchange between Rumsfeld and the Army infantryman, the dismissal of any defense of the torture and redefining what we do to incarcerated people as little more than fraternity pranks. This does not sit well with people despite what Rove thinks. What we are doing for example in Gitmo and in Abu Gharaib is torture and given a chance, I believe most Americans would tell you this is wrong plain and simple and they wish we had no part in it. The Bushies fear of appearing weak is making them weaker by the moment and by the pronouncement. Americans want the truth and with the exception of the most die hard right wingnuts; most Americans do not really feel that they are getting the truth.
(The insurgents are likely to really time some horrific attacks to show up Bush's speech. Which will show their sophistication and make Bush look like a bigger fool.)
Bush is not connected to reality. One pundit today made the point that "The social security campaign has been a disaster for Bush. The more he has traveled, the more public approval of his handling of the issue has collapsed." I use this as a guide for predicting what Bush will do. Like Molly Ivins says: `He was born on third base and thinks he hit a triple. He actually believes his own advisors about his popularity. He stands in front of hand picked Americans and believes that these nitwits represent the rest of us. When in fact they are just nitwits. I think what is catching up to Bush is the fact that Iraq will not be the medal he can wear on his chest, but an albatross around his neck. One that he cannot seem to recognize. But everyone else is saying, "hey there's an albatross around your neck."
Bush cannot garner more support for this war outside of deal making in regards to legislation. Bush will not face another election soon. But many Republican Congressmen and Senators do. They see the war as an albatross around their own shoulders and must distance themselves from Bush.
Already Cheney and Representative Chuck Hagel are at war. So there is one Republican Senator who thinks Bush and Cheney are idiots. So how much cooperation or uniting or coalition building will happen between them? None. Take Andrew Sullivan, a Gay Republican who supports a party that went to war on a pack of lies and hopes to condemn Gay people to second-class citizenship. If you can explain Gay Republicans to me then do. I understand Jews for Nazis even more. But Sullivan says this: "The disapproval levels of Independents and Democrats are now indistinguishable, but the Republican bloc is solid. This strikes me as a direct result of the Rove strategy of brutal partisanship, Christianist pandering, and general fiscal and military fecklessness. Some readers have said that my criticism of the administration makes me sound like a liberal these days. Well, from these results, I'm not the only one being pushed by right-wing extremism into opposition."
Recently we discovered that while Republicans support Bush whole-heartedly, independents have left him. That tells me Bush is not just losing the public, he is losing what is left of the middle of the country.
There are some things Bush can do to get his ass out of trouble. He can say as soon as there is a constitution signed we will draw down troops. That is roughly eight months off. Calculate eight times thirty equals roughly 240 days, time 2.3 dead a day = 552 dead. Add that to 1739 dead and you get 2291 dead. Figuring there 9 wounded to every one killed we will have almost 18,000 total wounded. That is big price to pay to save face for Bush. But if a drawdown is to start, that is the price we will have to pay.
By Tuesday evening, if Bush hasn't given some plan, and the overall effect is the same circus different clowns that will be the beginning of the end for the Bushies.
In other words, if this speech fails, everyone'll know- Bush has no hand to play at all.
I realize and most of you too also realize that their power is only held because they control the means to power. Their power does not rise out off popularity. Their power is artificial and temporary. They can do damage before they lose it all. But I believe we are seeing the death spiral of the 2004 "mandate".
(oh yes. If you like, please recommend)