Friday, January 12, 2007

President Bush on 60 Minutes

(image via smallerclothes)

As goes the noble Chuck Hagel, Senator from Nebraska (And, so might have gone, Senator John McCain he not been inflamed by his overwhelming lust for the Presidency), so goes The President's all-important conservative base support. So adamant was The President in not being like his Father, who reneged on his No-New-Taxes promise in the commendable spirit of compromise that cost him a second term, that "Bush 43" has, ironically, metamorphosed into "Bush 41," namely, greatly unpopular (The Corsair pops a bottle of Chateauneuf du Pape 1999). Ivan Turgenev could not have written anything more poignant on the subject of Fathers and Sons. And so too with his unstated vow to not be like his predecesor (The White House was symbolically fumigated before the Bushies entered), Bill Clinton, that he has -- also ironically -- fallen prey to reacting to the polls which show, brutally, that 70-percent of Americans are against the Troop Surge Proposal.

And so (Exaggerated cough suggesting feigned detachment), The President will appear on "60 Minutes" -- strategically placed right after the NFL Playoff game but hopefully before the season premiere of "24" -- to speak to Americans about his astonishingly late attempt to turn the tide on the already out-of-control Sunni-Shi'ite civil war (Yes, we said It) in Iraq in which American troops stand dangeroulsly in the crossfire.

There is an old adage that every politician secretly wishes to be Winston Churchill. Giuliani certainly does. You can see it in the way he walks and talks. A cheap imitation, to be sure, but a hungry man's Winston Churchill nonetheless. Equally so with "Bush 43," who accepted a bust of Churchill from the former Ambassador from England, that is meaningfully situated in the White House. It is one thing to want to be Churchill, and successfully prosecute a Great War of Civilization as he did -- but one must Communcate. Communication is a major -- perhaps THE major in a democracy -- part of Leadership and, quite frankly, Bush 43 has done an abysmal job of it. The great Republican pollster Frank Luntz on C-Span last week said about as much, with an uncharacteristic touch of Burtonian melancholy. Remember Prime Minister Tony Blair's historic July 2003 speech before both Houses of Congress and how well it was received (One could count the rhetorical orgasms in the chamber as the speech went on)? It was -- even if one disagreed with him -- a refreshing moment to be caught in Blair's articulateness. He relieved, if only for a moment, our creeping sense of unease at the vast Freedoms that we are marginally curtailing in the cause of Patriotism and the changing Nature of this great country from Democratic Republic ... into an Empire (McKinley's adventures in "uplifting" and "Christianizing" the Philippines notwithstanding). Churchill had his Fireside Chats, and this President ... has his rhetorically flaccid Weekly Radio Adresses.

Not hardly enough. We shall see if he brings a greater effort and his A-Game to 60 Minutes, because The President's mojo with Senator Hagel and the rest of the centrist Republicans as well as the smouldering groundswell of antiwar sentiment that emerged last election night is no longer amused with Bush 43's affability. Hagel country don't play that. We need competence and we need a President who can clearly articulate our present mission in Iraq to we, the people, as well as the supine Maliki puppet government presently serving at the pleasure of Moqtada al-Sadr's Parliamentary voting block, and his Shi'ia masters in Persia. The clear winner of the Iraq War was, unfortunately, Iran, whose flush oil revenues allowed them to finance the Hezbollah-Israel War in which Israel's military, which followed the outmoded Rumsfeld-Wohlstetter model of precision guided tactical strikes from the air, and a light infantry clean-up -- suffered its first military defeat. Wohstetter theorized about a lighter, faster form of combat, which Francis Fukuyama notes, "can defeat virtually any conventional military force." Unfortunately, as we see in Iraq and in the Hezbollah war, the Wohlstetter-Rumsfeld thesis is useless against an entrenched insurgency, or asymmetrical warfare. The winner? Iran, who funded Hezbollah. It was a proxy war between Iran and Israel, and Iran never showed their hand. As the old adage goes: The Persians invented Chess.

Is Iran next? Attacking Iran -- as world class sicky Joshua Muravchik keeps hinting at -- would be the greatest strategic blunder in the history of the United States of America. With 70 percent of Persia's population under 30 years of age, and University students -- intellectuals -- beginning to question Ahmadinejad's antagonistic posturings towards the West, it would be catastrophic to drop bunker busters in Iran. We must have patience and not try to affect the organic pace of generational change in Tehran (As well as James Baker's sagacious counsel of Diplomacy), which, to be sure, might be hard for an Attention Deficit President. From Tom Friedman (via ripvansable):

"My reaction to the president's speech was to recall a line from Bill Maher's book about the war against terrorists: 'Make them fight all of us.'

"Mr. President, you want a surge? I'll surge. I'll surge on the condition that you once and for all enlist the entire American people in this war effort, and stop putting it all on the shoulders of 130,000 military families, and now 20,000 more. I'll surge on the condition that you make them fight all of us — and that means a real energy policy, with a real gasoline tax, that ends our addiction to oil, shrinks the flow of petro-dollars to bad actors and makes America the world's leader in conservation."

The pendulum swings. Subsaharan Africa is The Zeitgeist (And, BTW, Corsair readers who are voting academy members: Remember Forrest Whitaker and do the right thing). America's aid of Somalians by giving tactical aid to Ethiopia was a glorious maneuver. Kudos to the Bushies. The War on Terror moves to the Horn of Africa. Now, how about aiding Sudan by providing airpower and tactical support to neighboring countries to stop the genocide in Darfur, and, in our national interest, weaken Muslim fundamentalist power in a known Al-Quaeda haven.

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