6.01.2007

Maureen Dowd: "Bush's Fleurs du Mal"

Try not to break a rib laughing too hard in this MoDo column from May 27th when you learn how Bush insists he "is credible because he reads the intelligence". Even if we can pretend Bush can read, the only credibility this man (loosely defined) has is that which the right demands everyone else provide him.

For me, the saddest spot in Washington is the inverted V of the black granite Vietnam wall, jutting up with the names of young men dying in a war that their leaders already knew could not be won.

So many died because of ego and deceit — because L.B.J. and Robert McNamara wanted to save face or because Henry Kissinger wanted to protect Nixon’s re-election chances.

Now the Bush administration finds itself at that same hour of shame. It knows the surge is not working. Iraq is in a civil war, with a gruesome bonus of terrorists mixed in. April was the worst month this year for the American military, with 104 soldiers killed, and there have been about 90 killed thus far in May. The democracy’s not jelling, as Iraqi lawmakers get ready to slouch off for a two-month vacation, leaving our kids to be blown up.

The top-flight counterinsurgency team that President Bush sent in after long years of pretending that we’d “turned the corner” doesn’t believe there’s a military solution. General Petraeus is reduced to writing an open letter to the Iraqi public, pleading with them to reject sectarianism and violence, even as the Shiite cleric Moktada al-Sadr slinks back from four months in Iran, rallying his fans by crying: “No, no, no to Satan! No, no, no to America! No, no, no to occupation! No, no, no to Israel!”

W. thinks he can save face if he keeps taunting Democrats as the party of surrender — just as Nixon did — and dumps the Frankenstate he’s created on his successor.

“The enemy in Vietnam had neither the intent nor the capability to strike our homeland,” he told Coast Guard Academy graduates. “The enemy in Iraq does. Nine-eleven taught us that to protect the American people we must fight the terrorists where they live so that we don’t have to fight them where we live.”

The president said an intelligence report (which turned out to be two years old) showed that Osama had been trying to send Qaeda terrorists in Iraq to attack America. So clearly, Osama is capable of multitasking: Order the killers in Iraq to go after American soldiers there and American civilians here. There AND here. Get it, W.?

The president is on a continuous loop of sophistry: We have to push on in Iraq because Al Qaeda is there, even though Al Qaeda is there because we pushed into Iraq. Our troops have to keep dying there because our troops have been dying there. We have to stay so the enemy doesn’t know we’re leaving. Osama hasn’t been found because he’s hiding.

The terrorists moved into George Bush’s Iraq, not Saddam Hussein’s. W.’s ranting about Al Qaeda there is like planting fleurs du mal and then complaining your garden is toxic.

The president looked as if he wanted to smack David Gregory when the NBC reporter asked him at the news conference Thursday if he could still be “a credible messenger on the war” given all the mistakes and all the disillusioned Republicans.

“I’m credible because I read the intelligence, David,” he replied sharply.

But he isn’t and he doesn’t. Otherwise he might have read “Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S.” in August 2001, and might have read the prewar intelligence reports the Senate just released that presciently forecast the horrors in store for na├»ve presidents who race to war because they want to be seen as hard, not soft.

Intelligence analysts may have muffed the W.M.D. issue, but they accurately predicted that implanting democracy in Iraq would be an “alien” idea that could lead to turbulence and violence; that Al Qaeda would hook up with Saddam loyalists and “angry young recruits” to militant Islam to “wage guerrilla warfare” on American forces, and that Iran and Al Qaeda would be the winners if the Bushies botched the occupation.