Thursday, December 29, 2005

The farce continues

Sidney Blumenthal:

Bush hoped to erase the year's infamies with the election in Iraq on December 15, his ultimate turning point. He delivered five major speeches crafted by his new adviser on the National Security Council, Peter Feaver, a Duke University political scientist and co-author of "Choosing Your Battles," based on his public opinion research showing that "the public is defeat phobic, not casualty phobic." In one speech, Bush mentioned "victory" 15 times, against a background embossed with the slogan "Plan for Victory," and the White House issued a document entitled "National Strategy for Victory in Iraq."

On December 14, the president invited bipartisan groups of senators and representatives to White House briefings on the progress that would follow the election. Among those assembled in the Roosevelt Room were the president, Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Secretary of Defense Dnald Rumsfeld, National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley - and Peter Feaver, the polling expert. At the meeting with senators after the presentation, Bush called first on Senator John McCain, the Republican maverick, who gave an enthusiastic statement of support. A few more spoke. "Great, gotta go," said Bush. Afterwards, Feaver buttonholed senators to survey their opinions on the new approach.

Since the election of the Shiite slate that will hold power for four years, dedicated to an Islamic state allied with Iran, the president and his advisers have fallen eerily silent. As his annus horribilis draws to a close, Bush appears to have expended the turning points. Welcome to victory.

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