Saying the obvious

I’ve been trying to post this entry for most of this week. Between the news, blogs, and private discussions I’ve been trying to put my finger on how I feel about the POTUS.

By the way… I like saying POTUS, particularly when it comes to this president. When you stress the first syllable, with a slightly snide curling of the lips, it kind of sounds like an insult. “Shut up you potus!” (Maybe it’s just me.)

Everyone’s got an opinion about the big lug, but I can’t decide where my feelings lie.

In recent weeks rumors have circulated that George “I was a cowboy president” Bush would relent to reality and begin a draw down on the number of troops in Iraq. The other day he gave a speech which puts those rumors to bed.

Violence has spread to the green zone, the most secure area in Iraq and the epicenter of “the surge.” The White house is beginning to hint that the Iraqi government isn’t meeting the benchmarks Bush himself suggested as a barometer of progress. The U.S. military is on pace to surpass 1200 deaths this year, which would eclipse the previous high (849 in 2004) by a little more than 40 percent.

You may be saying to yourself, “sure there are more deaths, but there are more servicemen deployed, doing more fighting, so there’s naturally going to be more casualties.” There’s just one problem: according to The Brookings Institution (bottom of page 5), 113 soldiers died in the seven weeks prior to the surge (in Iraq), and 116 in the seven weeks after the surge. To me, this suggests the increase in fatalities could be due to the actions of the enemy, rather than our troops presenting more targets.

Despite all of the evidence to the contrary, Mr. Bush continues to assert that we’re making progress… that we’re going to “win” this “war.” I think he actually believes it too… that’s what I find so troubling. Lots of folks accuse Bush of lying, and I may have said it too… but I’m not really sure. Part of me thinks he really believes what he says. Part of me thinks he ignores evidence that runs contrary to his worldview. If he’s right, then the evidence must be wrong – or so he thinks. And personally, I’d sleep better if I thought he was just lying. More and more it sounds like the ravings of a “true believer,” or a delusional fanatic. At this point, who’s fanaticism is more dangerous – our own political leader, or the ones we’ve been fighting? I’m afraid the difference may be narrowing every day. What’s worse? This arrangement of dueling fanatics serves to fuel each other.

Making matters worse, the Democratic leadership in congress finds itself too inept, apprehensive, or both, to do anything about it. They seemingly want to have their cake and eat it too. They want to be against the war in Iraq, but they don’t seem to want to do anything which might make them in any way responsible. This is either a political calculation (geared towards the next election – which may back fire), or a true act of cowardice; borne of a fear that the consequences of their actions (in an admittedly volatile region) could land them in private sector employ (or early retirement).

Give the gift of words.