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President George W. Bush’s carefully-crafted facade of Republican unity is coming apart at the seams as more and more of his former party faithful bail because of his disaster in Iraq.
It’s so obvious even the mainstreamers are catching on as Jonathan Weisman and Anushka Asthana report in The Washington Post:
Faced with almost daily reports of sectarian carnage in Iraq, congressional Republicans are shifting their message on the war from speaking optimistically of progress to acknowledging the difficulty of the mission and pointing up mistakes in planning and execution.
Rep. Christopher Shays (Conn.) is using his House Government Reform subcommittee on national security to vent criticism of the White House’s war strategy and new estimates of the monetary cost of the war. Rep. Gil Gutknecht (Minn.), once a strong supporter of the war, returned from Iraq this week declaring that conditions in Baghdad were far worse “than we’d been led to believe” and urging that troop withdrawals begin immediately.
And freshman Sen. John Thune (S.D.) told reporters at the National Press Club that if he were running for reelection this year, “you obviously don’t embrace the president and his agenda.”
“The first thing I’d do is acknowledge that there have been mistakes made,” Thune said.
Rank-and file Republicans who once adamantly backed the administration on the war are moving to a two-stage new message, according to some lawmakers. First, Republicans are making it clear to constituents they do not agree with every decision the president has made on Iraq. Then they boil the argument down to two choices: staying and fighting or conceding defeat to a vicious enemy.
The shift is subtle, but Republican lawmakers acknowledge that it is no longer tenable to say the news media are ignoring the good news in Iraq and painting an unfair picture of the war. In the first half of this year, 4,338 Iraqi civilians died violent deaths, according to a new report by the U.N. Assistance Mission for Iraq. Last month alone, 3,149 civilians were killed — an average of more than 100 a day.
“It’s like after Katrina, when the secretary of homeland security was saying all those people weren’t really stranded when we were all watching it on TV,” said Rep. Patrick T. McHenry (R-N.C.). “I still hear about that. We can’t look like we won’t face reality.”
Said Gutknecht: “Essentially what the White House is saying is ‘Stay the course, stay the course.’ I don’t think that course is politically sustainable.”
For five-and-a-half years Bush has been able to depend on lockstep support from brain-dead Republicans who bought into his propagandist fantasy that Iraq, somehow, had something to do with the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. But even a party as eternally stupid as the Republicans has to face reality eventually and those who face the very real prospect of forced retirement in the November mid-term elections now realize that following this madman into the abyss is political suicide.
We can sit around and try to discuss the Bush presidency in rational terms but rational thought and action is not possible when dealing with an insane megalomaniac who sends Americans to die in an illegal war and sits on his ass and talks about how well things are going in Iraq as more and more Iraqi civilians die on a country that melted down months ago.
Political pundits talk at length about the “legacy” of the Bush presidency. What legacy? The man is an American dictator who has systematically dismantled the Constitution, eliminated American freedoms and rights to privacy and, aided by the equally power-mad Dick Cheney, built the executive branch of government into a bloated bureaucracy that answers to no one and obeys no laws.
No wonder Republicans are bailing on Bush but their pathetic attempts to distance themselves from the Prince of Pennsylvania Avenue come too late. They share the blame for the destruction of a once-great country called The United States of America and they, along with Bush, Cheney and the rest of the cabal, must pay for their treasonous acts.