Friday, March 2, 2007

It's not about George Bush

Marc Schulman at TMV links approvingly to a Times of London editorial, castigating the hordes of Bush loathers and America bashers in the world: reinforcing a favorite theme of rightwing partisans who want to attack war critics without actually debating the war.

It’s not about George Bush. Too many politicos and pundits obsess over George Bush's legacy.

It’s about our people getting shot at while babysitting a civil war that’s going badly. It’s about 100 Iraqis dying every day. It’s about the resurgence of the Taliban and al Qaeda. It's about throwing another $250 billion at a policy most Americans think is doomed to failure. And most importantly, it's about the American people's demand for a voice in this conflict.

Every defense of his policies revolves around this idea of Bush's ego. So we get the Baker commission delaying the release of their Iraq Study Group report to keep from embarrassing him before the midterm elections. We get the previous Republican Congress refusing any oversight and allowing Iraq to slip into chaos. We get Lindsay Graham stripping habeas corpus protections from prisoners at Guantanamo, lest we discover they've been abused or wrongly arrested (under the guise of anti-torture legislation) . We get the current Republican minority filibustering any debate on how we should conduct the war.

Criticism of this war is neither Bush hatred nor America bashing. Nearly 70% of Americans think this war is being waged badly. A lot of those people voted for the man, twice.

Bush's defenders need to stop pretending that the president has sole authority, here. This government was designed to be idiot-proof, but that assumes each branch will step in when the others falter. Lately we’ve had a Congress and court system that refuses to check the president, even when he’s demonstrably out of his league.

Republicans have treated the war as though it’s a P.R. problem. They continue to avoid debate, even about the purpose of this fight in Iraq. If they’d stepped in when things began falling apart, they could’ve defined the mission, focused resources on security early on and prevented the chaos we see today. After the election, when Bush threw the ISG report in the trash, they should have taken him aside and demanded he start listening to people outside of the bubble of advisors who got us into this mess in the first place.

As for the Democrats, now that they are in charge, they have to stop pretending that this is Bush’s war or that they can just complain about it for the next 2 years. They were elected to fix the problem. If George Bush wants another quarter-trillion dollars to fund it, and they refuse to deny him, then they need to tack on a quarter-trillion dollar war tax to fund it.

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