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January 10, 2007

Actions Have Consequences

I was very sad listening to President Bush and the commentary afterwards.  The general sense I had from watching and listening to Bush and then hearing the Generals, the Senators and the commentators on PBS's NewsHour express their opinions of what they heard, was that it wasn't going to work.  Nothing would work.  We are into it up to our eyeballs and there is nothing that will save us from failure.  The folks who support this operation, like David Brooks and Senator John Thune, who say we have to look at the horrendous consequences if we were to exit, are looking for cover.  As Mark Shields said, they are looking to say they did everything they could but the Iraqis wouldn't step up to take over.  The folks who don't support it simply think it will be horrific either way and we might as well have as few troops as possible in the way.

Senator Dick Durbin gave the Democrats' reasoned response. He called for the "orderly" redeployment of troops, saying, "Escalation of this war is not the direction the American people called for in the last election. . . . Twenty-thousand American soldiers are too few to end this civil war in Iraq."

PBS then had retired U.S. Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Bernard Trainor and retired General William Odom, director of national security studies at the Hudson Institute, on.  There was none of the usual "balance" that the NewsHour seems to feel it has to have, which I suspect was unintended and unexpected.  Both expressed skepticism that the Iraqis are capable of taking control of the situation. 

Then Senator Jim Webb said that he thought that what was missing was any diplomatic efforts to pull other countries into helping with the situation.  Senator John Thune respectfully supported the "but we have to try" solution that the President presented.

Not that I was surprised.  Really, we've known for awhile that there is no saving the situation.  But, listening to a few of the grown-ups, and their muted responses, brought home for me the gravity of the situation.  This is the best this poor, panicked man could come up with and it does not begin to be enough.

PBS has audiofiles of the speech, Durbin's rebuttal and all the commentary, including regulars Mark Shields and David Brooks.

I want to share my impressions because I think this speech will be seen as a turning point for the nation, but not likely in the way that Bush intended. 

  1. Bush did a masterful job of appearing contrite and "realistic".  This thing must have been focus-grouped to death.  I didn't see a single smirk.  He gave homage to the Iraq Study Group, as if he had accepted a single one of their recommendations; he talked about all the Congressfolk he had talked with and how much he had considered their opinions.  He talked about what a good job we'd done in Afghanistan and how we wanted to do the same in Iraq.  Gag!
  2. Underneath, he looked panicked to me, like he knows finally that there is no out but he is going to try to hold off the inevitable for as long as possible, hoping for some miracle to occur to keep him from having to accept some measure of responsibility for this disaster.
  3. Senator Jim Webb was confident and articulate; John Thune way less so.  The tables are turning; what a difference an election makes.  Not to mention how very cool Webb is. 
  4. I don't think most people were paying much attention; it is too late for more than a fraction of people to have their minds changed on this.  I doubt this will move Bush's numbers except perhaps lower. 
  5. The President said that failure would bring a chaos beyond anything we can imagine.  I actually felt a bit of compassion for President Bush for one of the first times.  Here he is, coming to recognize the absolute failure of what is going on over there, with little chance of pulling it out.  He must be in the position of beginning to recognize for the first time in his life, that actions actually do have consequences.

Please, add your thoughts. 

Posted by Lynn Allen on January 10, 2007 at 11:27 PM in Media, National and International Politics | Permalink


it seems to me the big question is how to stop bush from executing his plan, rather than just expressing disagreement with it. i am disappointed but not surprised that folks like Adam Smith are reluctant to making a concerted effort to DWIT (DoWhatItTakes) including fiscal controls for fear of giving the public the idea they don't "support the troops."

Posted by: howieinseattle | Jan 11, 2007 7:16:22 AM

Agreed, Howie. As I understand it, there are plans afoot to do just that. MoveOn and others will be working to persuade Congress to stop the escalation, whatever it takes. More as we get it.

Posted by: Lynn | Jan 11, 2007 9:16:49 AM

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