Thursday, January 11, 2007

The President Who Cried Wolf

Bush's legacy: The president who cried wolf

Bush's strategy fails because it depends on his credibility

Special Comment By Keith Olbermann


Only this president, only in this time, only with this dangerous, even messianic certitude, could answer a country demanding an exit strategy from Iraq, by offering an entrance strategy for Iran.

Only this president could look out over a vista of 3,008 dead and 22,834 wounded in Iraq, and finally say, "Where mistakes have been made, the responsibility rests with me" — only to follow that by proposing to repeat the identical mistake ... in Iran.

Only this president could extol the "thoughtful recommendations of the Iraq Study Group," and then take its most far-sighted recommendation — "engage Syria and Iran" — and transform it into "threaten Syria and Iran" — when al-Qaida would like nothing better than for us to threaten Syria, and when Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad would like nothing better than to be threatened by us.

Mr. Bush, the question is no longer "what are you thinking?," but rather "are you thinking at all?"

"I have made it clear to the prime minister and Iraq's other leaders that America's commitment is not open-ended," you said last night.

And yet — without any authorization from the public, which spoke so loudly and clearly to you in November's elections — without any consultation with a Congress (in which key members of your own party, including Sens. Sam Brownback, Norm Coleman and Chuck Hagel, are fleeing for higher ground) — without any awareness that you are doing exactly the opposite of what Baker-Hamilton urged you to do — you seem to be ready to make an open-ended commitment (on America's behalf) to do whatever you want, in Iran.

We are going to put 17,500 more troops into Baghdad and 4,000 more into Anbar Province to give the Iraqi government "breathing space."

Mr. Bush did not mention that while our people are trying to do that, the factions in the civil war will no longer have to focus on killing each other, but rather they can focus anew on killing our people.

Because last night the president foolishly all but announced that we will be sending these 21,500 poor souls, but no more after that, and if the whole thing fizzles out, we’re going home.

The plan fails militarily.

The plan fails symbolically.

The plan fails politically.

Most importantly, perhaps, Mr. Bush, the plan fails because it still depends on your credibility.

You speak of mistakes and of the responsibility "resting" with you.

But you do not admit to making those mistakes.

And you offer us nothing to justify this clenched fist toward Iran and Syria.

In fact, when you briefed news correspondents off-the-record before the speech, they were told, once again, "if you knew what we knew … if you saw what we saw … "

"If you knew what we knew" was how we got into this morass in Iraq in the first place.

The problem arose when it turned out that the question wasn't whether we knew what you knew, but whether you knew what you knew.

You, sir, have become the president who cried wolf.

Your assurances, sir, and your demands that we trust you, have lost all shape and texture.

They are now merely fertilizer for conspiracy theories.

They are now fertilizer, indeed.

The pile has been built slowly and with seeming care.

Mr. Bush, this is madness.

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