Taking Powerline Seriously

Ken AshfordBush & Co., Iraq, Right Wing Punditry/IdiocyLeave a Comment

Paul Mirengoff makes it clear why the other guys at Powerline don’t let him post so much.  Today he writes about "Taking The President Seriously":

The subject on yesterday’s edition of the O’Reilly Factor was how long we have to turn things around in Iraq. O’Reilly thought that President Bush has about six months to show the American people that we’re making progress.

I need to make a countdown thingee for my sidebar.

Bill O’Reilly is as astute as they come, and —

Wait.  Say that again?!?

Bill O’Reilly is as astute as they come, and  his —

Bwaaaaa-hahahahahahahaha! [sniff, sigh, chortle]. 

Okay.  Well, let me compile a short list of possible "theys":  drunks, pathological liars, rocks.

Bill O’Reilly is as astute as they come, and  his nervousness about the situation in Iraq is understandable. However, I think the best answer to his question is that we have until January 2009, when Bush’s second term expires, to turn it around.

Right.  The salient factor should be the presidential elections, not the congressional elections.  And sure as hell not the death of American soldiers, or innocent Iraqis, or even, you know, whether or not a victory is even possible.

It’s the president’s decision how long we stay engaged, and at what level. I believe that Bush is committed to winning in Iraq and, if neccessary, will take all the time available to him to accomplish this.

Call it the Military Corallary to Parkinson’s Law.

Nor, under our democratic system, is there anything improper about this single-minded approach. We decide public policy through elections, not polls.

Right.  Once elected, our leaders should stop listening to the people.  That’s the democratic way, don’t you know.

When Bush ran for president last year, the military situation was probably comparable to what it is today.

Except for the fact that insurgency attacks were less frequent than now, and there were 680 fewer U.S. casualties than now.  Other than that, pretty much the same.

Bush promised to stay until the job was done. He set no timetable, nor did he say or imply that the job would be completed soon.

Ummm . . .



He was re-elected with a majority of the votes cast. He’s entitled to stay the course.

It’s about him, don’t you see.  The presidency is an entitlement, not a position of public service and responsiblity.  He doesn’t serve us; if anything, we serve him.

O’Reilly and his guest Douglas Brinkley pointed to the 2006 elections. But I doubt that the congressional elections will constrain Bush. First, there’s no reason to believe that the Republicans will suffer significantly due to the war.

There’s no reason?  How about polls showing dissatisfaction with the war, and with those (primarily Republicans) who support it?

The 2006 math is quite favorable to the Republicans keeping solid control of both Houses, barring overconfidence, arrogance, or corruption on the part of a critical mass of the party’s incumbents.

I think it’s the corruption part you need to worry about most.

And individual members who think the war is hurting them will tend to distance themselves from Bush.

And Bush won’t be constrained even by members of his own party.  He’s a fucking king, don’t you understand?

Second, I doubt that Bush would change course significantly even if he thought doing so would materially affect the 2006 elections. As Bush spelled out before an Idaho crowd last night . . . "Terrorists will emerge from Iraq one of two ways: emboldened or defeated." I don’t expect the president to opt for "emboldened" in the hope of influencing the 2006 election.

That, of course, presumes what most people have rejected by now: that the "terrorists" fighting in Iraq represent the worldwide population of terrorists and potential terrorists.  The sad news, which holdouts like Paul Mirengoff  seem to forget, is that even if we defeat every insurgent in Iraq, that will only make worldwide terrorism worse.  (See, e.g., Tube, London).

America isn’t used to having a president who does what he says he will do.

Really.  Let’s go to the way-back machine, to the Presidential debates of 2000:

LEHRER: New question.

How would you go about, as president, deciding when it was in the national interest to use U.S. force? Generally.

BUSH: Well, if it’s in our vital national interests. And that means whether or not our territory — our territory is threatened, our people could be harmed, whether or not our alliances — our defense alliances are threatened, whether or not our friends in the Middle East are threatened. That would be a time to seriously consider the use of force.

Secondly, whether or not the mission was clear, whether or not it was a clear understanding as to what the mission would be.

Thirdly, whether or not we were prepared and trained to win, whether or not our forces were of high morale and high standing and well-equipped.

And finally, whether or not there was an exit strategy.


The vice president and I have a disagreement about the use of troops. He believes in nation-building. I would be very careful about using our troops as nation builders.


But like it or not, George W. Bush is such a president.