Imus wasn’t the only circus in town

While the nation has been fixated on the fiasco of Don Imus, a virulently self-obsessed radio/TV shock jock who should have been fired long ago for trying to pose as an adult, a much more serious breach of intelligence has occurred:

The Bush White House has been in desperate search of a “war czar.”

Four years — and counting — into a war that was begun for reasons that have never been explained, with thousands killed, tens of thousands maimed for life and U.S. credibility in shreds, the Bush White House admits that it needs a high-profile overseer to plot the future course of the war in Iraq — what The Washington Post has dubbed a “war czar.”

Never mind that the course of “czars” has never run smoothly in this country, or any other. (Drug czar? Anti-terrorism czar? Education czar? Russian czar?)

What is stunning is that the White House is actually, unbelievably, incredibly announcing to the world that it doesn’t know what it is doing in Iraq and hasn’t a clue what to do next, let alone how to get out of the quagmire it created.

Although anyone would have to be certifiable to take the job of overseeing this war as long as President Bush insists nothing will change, we’re assured by the White House staff that this is all under serious consideration.

Witness Dana Perino, the current White House spokesman, speaking about a “possible reorganization” within the National Security Council and confirming that the position of a war overseer is an option: “We are talking to people; there have been no decisions made.”

But apparently at least three retired four-star generals were unofficially felt out about taking such a job. None accepted.

The Decider, as Bush confidently called himself, to the delight of comedians everywhere, is supposed to be the commander in chief, especially since he fired the generals on the ground who disagreed with him about how the war was going. In truth, it has been Vice President Dick Cheney who has been — and still is — calling the shots in this appallingly misguided war, especially with the departure of his soul buddy, former defense chief Don Rumsfeld. Now even Cheney is flummoxed about how to get out of one of the most stupendous messes in U.S. history.

With stunning chutzpah, the White House is suggesting that the war has been guided by a mid-level bureaucrat named Meghan O’Sullivan, who has toiled for Bush in near obscurity in the National Security Council, first under Condoleezza Rice and now under Stephen Hadley, who also wants out.

O’Sullivan is leaving her job, and, the White House says, that opens the door to replacing her with someone who would “oversee” the war on a much broader scale. Such a person would have the power to dictate to all kinds of government agencies. (Is there some kind of new constitutional crisis arising here?)

This is amazingly surreal (yes, I know I’m blowing a year’s worth of adjectives) for a democracy where we’re not supposed to have “war czars” who have unspecified powers over life and death.

While Bush gives speech after speech insisting the war is going OK, if not well, and paving the way toward democracy in the Middle East and giving terrorists everywhere nightmares (all evidence to the contrary), the pursuit of a war overseer is proof enough the White House policy is in total chaos.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates’ new order that current deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan will extend to 15 months shows that this nation is in a bizarrely Romanesque state of over-extension.

The Army, admits Gates, is stretched. The tour extension affects more than 100,000 men and women and means they will have the longest combat tours since World War II. Meanwhile, every day, every single day, more U.S. men and women are being blown apart by explosive devices carefully placed to wreak as much carnage as possible on the human torso.

We are in one of those periods of history that, in retrospect, will seem totally perplexing to our descendants trying to make sense of how we went to war to save the world from terrorism, ended up in Iraq and couldn’t figure out how to get out. There may even be an entire chapter in the history books on the concept of a “war czar” if anyone is foolish enough to accept Bush’s offer.

Imus’ inexplicable racist, sexist rant against Rutgers University’s women’s basketball team has shown how far we have to go toward being competent adults in how we treat each other. The “war czar” disaster has shown how far we have strayed from our ideal of being a global moral leader.

What a week.


(Scripps Howard columnist Ann McFeatters has covered the White House and national politics since 1986. E-mail amcfeatters(at)


  1. mojibyrd

    So Imus is fired for making a stupid comment, personally i do not care – but yet Bush and all his cronies are ruining the country financially, morally, ethically and taking away peoples liberties and freedoms on a daily basis, lies to the american people every time he opens his mouth (even though he has a script prepared for him), started a war for oil and wants to expand it into iran, syria, venezuela and probably against every person/country that disagrees with him and guess what, he still has a job and is worshiped in the media on a daily basis…again who cares about Imus, i never was a fan nor never will be, but Bush is affecting each and everyone of our lives but yet we let him get away with it daily!!!

  2. Dionysis

    Typical for this pathetic little graduate of Clown College, incurious George. Of course he will try and foist his own incompetence onto whatever sap takes the commander-in-chief’s responsiblities as ‘war czar’. No one seriously thinks Chimpy will accept any accountability, do they? To BushCo, accountability has to do with enumeration.

  3. AustinRanter

    Perhaps it’s time to give Carl Rove his opportunity to take on the challenge of a stronger role in Iraq, make him the War Czar (since he is already the “War Wizard of Oz” and let him do what he does best…he’s great at the science of destruction….hmmmmmm, or is that deception….oh well, whatever.

  4. Bill Jonke

    I’m sick of hearing of a silly mistake made by Mr.Imus.

    There are more important things we need to consider, like an incompetent president who needs to be ejected from the administrative system.

    Mr. Bush has made more “errors” in judgment and his inane speeches than Mr. Imus ever could.

    Give Imus a break; he’s small potatoes.

  5. Dinojak

    It’s George Bush’s policies we’re following in Iraq & Afghanistan, aren’t they? Doesn’t that make him the War Czar by default? Doesn’t he call himself “Commander In Chief” and the “Decider?” Why do you think the Democrats are pushing so hard to get him to finish this “war” before he leaves it for the next Democratic president (and Democratic congress) to try and clean up. He has absolutely no sense of responsibility or accountability for the actions he undertakes at the great expense of others. His character is severely flawed in that respect and we’re all paying the price for it now and for many years to come. The best indicator of a man’s character is the way he handles adversity. I’d say the student prince gets an “F” on that test.

    Remember 01-20-09, the end of an error.

  6. Patriot

    ….by what seems to be a ‘rolling back of the rocks to see who’s under them’ mentality that’s beginning to take hold in AMERICA.

    Whether it’s the Imus circus, the AG-Gate web of lies or the impending invasion of Iran (and don’t get me started on the insanity of JR and Cheney), I’m getting the sense that THE PEOPLE are rubbing their sleepy eyes and are starting to look around at all of the things they’ve been deliberately misinformed about for at least the past 6 years.

    As much as I have been crabbing about “when will THE PEOPLE start to notice what’s really wrong in this country?”, in the back of my mind I have also felt that, as in times past, THE PEOPLE will come to their own rescue.

    GOD Bless And Save This Truly GREAT NATION!!!

  7. CB

    All the rightie talking heads (Rush, Anne Coulter, Savage, Beck, O’Reilly, Hannity)should be monitored also. They have been spreading hate for years without any accountibility.

    Our country has changed and it is time to get rid of the hate speakers.

  8. Beccy

    The media had to focus on Imus or else they might have to tell us about the war Czar and the missing emails. All george’s friends are leaving him alone to figure a way out of this mess by himself. Are they afraid that they will also be tried for war crimes?

  9. Ross

    Look. Almost every high level official in place when the war on terror began was part of the Project for a New American Century. They published a paper in ’98 that explains this war.

    Why can people accept that the government lied to get us into a war in which 3000 Americans have died, but can’t accept that the government killed 3000 Americans and then lied about it?

    This goes deep, and it goes way back, and when you learn the WHOLE story (which begins with WWI), it makes your head, and your soul, ache. But you will see how these people have had no choice but to cover up their many evil deeds. This war is only ONE lie. We have been lied to about every major event that has occured in the lifetimes of 99% of people alive today. And all those events are related, and they have culminated in right now.

    Evil or stupid (or both)people have been making these stupid mistakes for so long, and now it’s laid on us to do something about it.