Bush’s stubborn defiance of the reality of war

I met an old friend and colleague on K Street the other day and she looked a bit weary. She told me that her son’s tour in Iraq had been extended because of President Bush’s surge and she expressed concern that his planned wedding although a year away might have to be postponed. Actually, the wedding worry was just a cover up for what really bothers her nearly every minute of every day — his safety.

She was too much a trouper not to present a facade of confidence about his welfare. Besides, it would be bad luck to even discuss it. Instead she talked about some of the interesting aspects of a foreign assignment that under any other circumstance would be a wonderfully educating experience in the cradle of civilization. She detailed some of the problems of accommodating more and more troops, including make shift sleeping arrangements and lack of equipment, an old story in this war.

“He had to lend his sidearm to his superior who didn’t have one,” she chuckled, shaking her head. “Did you know that the Iranians have disbursed new kinds of bombs that can pierce any armor?” She explained as though she were an old veteran herself, that “of course the more armor you put on, the slower the vehicle becomes, making it more vulnerable.”

Then suddenly she stopped, looked at me and asked quietly, “Why is this president so stubborn?” In her tone was the unmistaken note of motherly despair, one that is now echoed by millions of other Americans who can see no end to or even reason for this debacle the president so glibly calls “winnable.” There can be no victory, nearly every expert agrees, only continued chaos as long as American troops are present.

“He is like a child who puts his hands over his ears,” my friend said demonstrating, “and shouts, ‘I’m not listening! I can’t hear you!’ ”

Her analysis more and more has become the norm even among those publicly still loyal to the White House but privately skeptical. Longtime bridges of cooperation and friendship are coming down quicker than one can say Saddam Hussein. Vic Gold, a longtime Republican figure, a close friend of Richard Cheney and a collaborator with his wife, Lynne, in at least one literary venture, recently was quoted as saying that he felt the vice president was out of control. In a forthcoming book titled “The Invasion of the Party Snatchers,” Gold, a former aide to Sen. Barry Goldwater and a friend of George Bush senior, is excruciatingly critical of the Bush-Cheney administration.

No less a loyal ally than Sen. Sam Brownback, the conservative Kansas Republican running for president, conceded to reporters recently that the White House has spent too much time looking for a military rather than a political solution. It is anyone’s guess as to how long it will be before the dam of resentment among congressional Republicans bursts, flooding the chambers with enough votes to override any veto of legislation ordering withdrawal.

The parallels between the two commanders-in-chief from Texas, Lyndon Johnson and George Bush, grow daily. But key among them has been the utter refusal even in the last months of their presidency to understand the futility and even wrong-headedness of their commitments no matter how sincere they were in making and pursuing them.

The questions being asked by my friend who has been an observer in close proximity to seven presidents are the same ones that were asked in the 1960s when she first came to Washington. The non-answers then are the same non-answers today. Johnson left it up to Richard Nixon to end the misery of Vietnam and it finally took Congress and Gerald Ford to accomplish that in an atmosphere of shame. Remember the frantic rush to the helicopters at the embassy in Saigon as the North Vietnamese entered the city? Bush has indicated it will be up to someone else to get us out of Iraq. That’s just wonderful.

“Do you think we will be able to have that wedding in 2008,” my friend asked, “or will he be assigned to more time over there?”

It is an answer no one can give. But a betting man would put his money on an electorate so angry over this mess the answer would be yes to the wedding. One has to believe that there is no escaping the chaos that will ensue no matter when withdrawal comes — the sooner the better.


(Dan K. Thomasson is former editor of the Scripps Howard News Service.)


  1. KayInMaine

    The war in Iraq is just like a Mafia pizza shop…it looks like a pizza shop, it acts like a pizza shop, but really, it’s a front to launder money through. See? That’s exactly what Bush & Cheney wanted with Iraq. They wanted to get in there at all costs so their corporate whores could set up shop to pilfer and plunder the American treasury and whatever they could get their hands on in Iraq (oil of course).

    How many CEOs in America have Iraqi ancient artifacts in their offices from when the museums were pilfered in the beginning? I bet a ton do! Thieves!

    So, soldiers dying to them is nothing. They’re getting what they want. Iraq is the windshield that they’ll look through to continue their same game. Our soldiers are pawns and Bush & Cheney are having fun with them.



  2. Steve Horn

    Perhaps if George W. Bush had served in combat during Vietnam he’d understand what he was doing to the brave Americans who, even in the face of this farcical “global war on terror” serve, with courage and honor.

    But who among the inner circle can understand the perils of combat? Not George – sorry – being drunk and AWOL does not count for combat experience. Not Condi – unless she could get a Prada uniform she wouldn’t go. Not Cheney – he toughed it out in college. Rove – that pile of human shit –

    So to these folks “combat” is just an abstraction, like “honor” and “courage” and “truth” – just words with no real meaning.

    This little gang cares only for themselves – they don’t give a shit about those dying for their dirty little wars so long as the stock market and oil prices are up.

  3. gene

    The pressure on Bush is finally growing and their are so many scandals involving his criminal gain of liers its actually becoming a real soap-opera.

    Only a genuine idiot would expect sending a few thousand more troops (surge of stupidity) would make any difference at all except to get more US soldiers killed. The whole Arab unit of nations are all probably laughing their (sand soaked) asses off at this fool we have for a president. Looks as though his time is running out, thank God.

  4. Steve Horn

    Great points Gene, but the idiot who would be king doesn’t care. At the end of the day KKKarl Rove gives him a cookie, pats him on the head and tells him what a great job he’s doing. See, the people, the world, the constitution, the United Nations, none of it matters to Georgie Porgie – all that matters is what HE decides …

    As for congress taking action – don’t hold your breath –

  5. SEAL

    From the beginning until now there are/is two distictly separate reasons why we are in Iraq and why Bush/Cheney refuse to leave.

    The Bush reason is very simple. I find it amusing the way so many people try to accord him having goals of establishing democracy in the Middle East, a desire [as he claims] to win a war, getting richer, visions of legacy, and, of course, the oil. Many of those are part of Cheney’s goals but not Georgies’. Nope, nothing complicated about Bush. There’s only one reason why he wanted to go and one reason why he refuses to leave.

    George Bush has exactly what he has wanted all of his life. Absolute power. He wants to be the war time commander of the most powerful nation on the planet. He wants the power and he wants to use it. He wants everyone to be afraid of him. Things will be done his way and he has no qualms about blowing the hell out of anyone to get it.

    Bush was a failure all of his life before 2000. They had to stash him in the Governor’s office in Texas just to justify his existance, keep him out of trouble, and stop his succession of failures. However, they underestimated his psychotic need to show daddy and the world. That, coupled with his lack of intelligence makes him extremely dangerous now that he is facing another failure. He will do anything to prevent that from happening. And, he thinks he has the power to do it.

    Cheney, with the assistance of Rumsfeld, is the one who actually engineered the justification for going to Iraq. The rest were merely scripted players. Cheney was/is fullfilling his lifelong quest of Military Rule. He has been fixated on that from the first day he arrived in Washington, DC. Whether it is Russia, Vietnam, or the Middle East there is only one solution as far he is concerned, military might. He sees the Middle East oil as crucial to the ultimate goal of world domination. America must rule that!

    Cheney has other goals in conjuction. He was never immensley wealthy like the Bush family and most of the others he was involved with during his political life. He was poor by comparison. That he has rectified, taking advantage of his position as vice president of a president that has no clue what he is doing nor does he care as long as he supports the Bush parade. Of course, Cheney is using Bush to get what he wants. Cheney has been in complete control of everything that goes on in Iraq while Bush is the ignorant front man. However, now that the wheels are falling off the wagon he is letting Bush run the show and preparing for the end. I fully expect him to resign if and when the end of their control becomes a fact.

  6. Bill Jonke

    for that day, and I hope it’s soon.

    Bush and Cheney don’t realize that all “good” things come to an end. When I refer to “good,” I mean for just them. The American people are just an obstacle to their dreams of absolute power and wealth.

    We’ve had to endure far too much negative impact on our lives as a direct result of the cheersome twosome that it is time for all of us as Americans to stand up against them and fight back.

    This is doable, if we have the courage, and America has never run out of courage. It’s just been on a short hiatus. The only entity here in our great nation that lacks courage is this piss poor administration.