Pentagon planners this week warned President George W. Bush that his “troop surge” plan could double U.S. casualties in Iraq in the coming year and result in 10,000 or more American deaths by the end of 2008.
President Bush’s so-called speech of a lifetime laying out the next chapter in the demoralizing Iraqi saga was the gastronomic equivalent of a mashed-potato sandwich — serviceable but not appetizing.
Inexplicably standing before a bookcase of gauzily colored books (so we couldn’t be distracted by reading the titles?), he laid out a mea-culpa strategy that seems suspiciously like the status quo in drag.
President Bush’s order to send additional troops to Iraq has prompted a delicate war of wording in Washington — call it a surge in political vocabulary.
The latest to weigh in is Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who sees the troop deployment as an “augmentation,” but absolutely not an “escalation” of forces. And Rice was careful Thursday to avoid any use of the already well-used “surge.”
Rice bandied with lawmakers during her appearance before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to defend Bush’s latest initiative.
The clock is ticking for House Democrats, but it’s hard to tell what time it is.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., was touting a plan to push six bills through a Democratic House in 100 hours or less as early as June of last year. She’s reached the halfway point Ã¢â‚¬â€ in fewer than 20 hours, according to her count.
But just as the official clock for a basketball or football game stops for time-outs and commercial breaks, Democrats aren’t counting the minutes spent on business unrelated to those six designated bills.
The House of Representatives passed legislation Thursday to lift President Bush’s limits on federal embryonic stem cell research, making good on a campaign pledge by Democrats after the president vetoed the same legislation last year.
But the 253-174 vote, and the Senate’s expected passage of the bill soon, will likely be moot.
Bush has promised to veto the bill again. And while last November’s elections brought more supporters of embryonic stem cell research to Congress, the House vote Thursday still fell about three dozen votes shy of the two-thirds margin needed to override a veto.
Public approval of Congress has edged up a bit now that Democrats are back in control, but it’s still nothing to write home about. Approval for the way Congress is handling its job rose to 32 percent in the latest AP-Ipsos poll, up from a meager 27 percent a month earlier. That puts Congress on par with President Bush, whose 32 percent approval rating represents a new low for him in AP-Ipsos polling.
The Democrats, led by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi– and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid–, took control of Congress when the new session began on Jan. 4.
President Bush, who rarely admits mistakes, conceded in prime time that errors and misjudgments had been made in Iraq, but the plan he announced is hardly a bold departure from the existing strategy.
In most respects, it is more of the same — more troops, more advisers, more reconstruction aid. Whatever the merits of competing strategies offered by the Iraq Study Group, the hawkish Sen. John McCain, former U.S. commanders in Iraq and the Iraqis themselves, Bush chose to ignore them.
Iran: this emperor has no clothes
Americans too often swallow enemy propaganda at face value, subjecting us to knee-jerking manipulation by fiery orators. Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, with a few choice phrases, successfully elevates himself to the status of a Muslim “Hitler.” But this populist windbag is already losing his grip in Tehran, giving Washington a strategic opportunity we don’t yet appreciate.
While American neocons and Israeli hawks would bomb Iran today lest it continue enriching uranium, try viewing the situation less emotionally.