A failed attempt to sell a failed policy on a failed war

The dwindling numbers of those who continue to support, without question, George W. Bush’s failed policies in Iraq didn’t get much to support their cause when the President delivered what the White House promised would be a “major policy speech.”

The speech, offered to a carefully-selected audience of Naval Academy midshipmen at Annapolis, gave us nothing new and offered one more glimpse of Bush’s inability to grasp reality.

Either Bush is purposely lying when he claims progress in training Iraqis to handle their own security or he is just too damn dumb to realize how bad things are in the country he invaded two-and-a-half years ago.

Even worse, he apparently learned nothing from the botched photo op aboard an aircraft carrier in 2003 where he stood before that ridiculous “Mission Accomplished” banner and declared victory in Iraq.

Wednesday, more than two years later, he stood before another banner, this one claiming “A Plan for Victory,” and cited progress that doesn’t exist and promised a victory that the many pros in the Pentagon tell him is unattainable.

Bush claimed Iraq’s security forces are assuming more and more responsibility for security in the troubled nation. What security? Every day brings more death and destruction from insurgents who bomb at will and add to the mounting death tolls. Members of Iraq’s security forces – often the target of insurgents – complain they must pay for their own uniforms and weapons and say the insurgents are far better armed than they.

All Bush did was feed “the very ethnic and sectarian tensions that could well lead to civil war,” says Wayne White, former deputy director of intelligence and research for the Near East at the State Department,

Even members of Bush’s own party question the honesty of the President’s rosy view of how things are going in his failed war.

“We need some discussion of whether Iraqis want to be Iraqis, whether there is in fact sufficient cohesion among all the groups to prevent a civil war,” said Senator Richard Lugar of Indiana, chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, after the speech. Lugar added that Congress needs to be consulted “if, in fact, we are going to have sustained support through what could be a fairly long period.”

Newspapers found little to support in Bush’s speech.

“Americans have great cause for distrust,” The San Jose Mercury-News editorialized in today’s editions. “The administration has deceived Americans about the reasons for, and progress of, the war. Two years ago, Vice President Cheney and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld assured Americans over and over that the insurgents were in their last throes. That wasn’t true then, and it’s not true now.”

A CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll released after the speech Wednesday shows 55 percent of Americans do not believe Bush’s plan will achieve victory. Those who doubt polls that show Bush in a bad light will point out that only 10 percent of those polled watched the speech live but that, in itself, is an indicator of how little Americans trust Bush and how unwilling they are to listen to anything he has to say. The polls also put Bush’s approval rating at just 37 percent – a 51 point drop.

“If the president’s goal in kicking off a series of speeches detailing his Iraq policy was to rebuild support for the war, he missed his moment,” editorialized USA Today in today’s editions. “In doing so, he threw into sharper relief the long-running disconnect between his rosy perceptions and what’s attainable. Bush’s narrative seemed at times more plucked from a black-and-white fantasy than the more complex reality.”

In the end, Bush’s “major policy address” was either a recycling of lies by a politician who is incapable of honesty with the American people or the ravings of a stubborn, intellectually-challenged President in over his head.

Hell of a choice.