Thursday, April 19, 2007

Pop! Goes the Bubble

There was a direct meeting of mind with viscera yesterday, recounted by Froomkin today. The cretin in chief encountered reality. He hates it.

Something we're not allowed to see in public happened yesterday in the White House's Cabinet Room: President Bush was challenged and got angry.

There were no pyrotechnics, but according to multiple reports Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid compared Iraq to Vietnam at one point in a closed door meeting with Bush. Specifically, Reid suggested that Bush was pursuing a lost cause at the cost of American troops in order to protect his legacy.
Bush's reaction: He was "visibly angered" says the New York Times; he "bristled" according to the Associated Press. And he "denied this forcefully, after which Mr. Reid touched his arm in a gesture of friendliness," write the Wall Street Journal.

Could this have been the first time Bush has come face to face with someone willing to confront him so bluntly on the signature issue of his presidency?

We don't know. Bush is well known for living inside a protective bubble where accommodating staffers keep opposing views -- and those who hold them -- at bay.

Oh, the march of reality is reaching right to the oval office and it's coming from all around. Here in North Texas, another ray of blinding light. The Dallas Morning News sees the light at the end of the tunnel - it's a big Pop! of the bubble.

The surge is now in its third month, and there's very little sustained progress to report. To be sure, nobody expected the surge to improve conditions quickly and decisively, and we won't know for several months whether the surge will have worked. But with both Iraqi civilians and American soldiers dying at a record rate, the signs near the midpoint are discouraging.

Last week, a suicide bomber penetrated the Iraqi parliament building, in the heart of the highly fortified Green Zone – an unprecedented breach of security that proves no place is beyond the reach of terrorists. Meanwhile, Shiite strongman Muqtada al-Sadr ordered six ministers who owe fealty to him to leave the hapless government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, leaving the embattled leader – upon whose leadership U.S. strategy stands or falls – even weaker.

Meanwhile, an ABC News/Washington Post poll out this week finds that for the first time, a majority of Americans (51 percent) think the U.S. will lose the Iraq war. The poll also finds that two out of three Americans – again, a first-time majority – reject President Bush's belief that winning in Iraq is key to victory in the war on terror.

What does it all mean? That the White House and congressional Republicans, currently locked in mortal combat with the Democrats over war funding and timetables, are running short on both facts and logic with which to make a persuasive case that the U.S. can prevail in Iraq. And they're running out of time.

It's over and everyone knows it. It's looking less and less like the endless process of putting off the inevitable bye-bye to our failed war can be extended on through the election, to hand off to the new White House resident on January 20, 2009.

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