I have disliked George W. Bush since over a year before Election Day in 2000, so when I say that I almost feel sorry for him in his attempts to spin the failure of the Iraq surge, it is saying something indeed. Please note, I said "almost". Really feeling sorry would require forgetting the over three thousand dead American soldiers and hundreds of thousands of dead Iraqis. I will never forget either.
Most of us have heard by now that the Government Accountability Office (The US Government Accountability Office is a non-partisan agency of the federal government) has pronounced the Iraq Surge a failure. More embarrassing for the Bush administration is that the GAO was very specific, detailing that of the 18 benchmarks detailing critical success factors, only three have been completely met, four have been partially met, and our efforts in Iraq have completely failed to achieve the remaining eleven see USA Today's Synopsis of the GAO Report. If that sounds bad, what is even worse is that despite the additional surge troops, the trend is negative. The GAO found that conditions were better only three months ago with eight benchmarks met and four partially met. Conditions in Iraq are worsening as time progresses.
In response, Bush is pulling a Cher Horowitz. If Cher's isn't a name you recognize, I'm not surprised. Cher Horowitz is the main (and title described) character played by Alicia Silverstone in the 1995 movie "Clueless". In the movie, Cher gets a report card with several bad grades and embarks on a campaign to get the teachers to change the grades. Cher surreptitiously arranges dates for lonely teachers to improve their attitude, engages in all sorts of other foolishness, and eventually succeeds in getting the grades changed. Of course, Cher’s test scores and her command of the material didn't change. Bush is doing the same thing. He and the administration are pressuring the GAO to change their grades. He has enlisted the pentagon to help pressure the GAO. It is sad to see a US President reduced to desperately trying to change the grades on policy performance benchmarks. In case that doesn't work, Bush and the administration are going to come out with their own progress report. That is something Cher didn't think of, if you don't like the grades on your report card, create your own substitute report card.
Bush is getting some help with prevarication from the 2008 Republican Presidential Nominee hopefuls. I think every Republican recognizes that their collective hopes hinge on preventing the public from coming to the full realization of how bad things are in Iraq. They are going to grab the three out of eighteen things that are going well, say that is the full measure of the Iraq report, and go about claiming Mission Accomplished. Hmmm, where have I heard that before.
No matter the tactics, when Bush finishes with his own version of Clueless-ness in declaring Mission Accomplished version 2.0, the Iraq surge will still be a failure. The only questions remaining are whether the Democrats, the rest of the media, and other leaders will allow the spin to go unchallenged and whether the American people buy it. I’m going to go with an “I’m not sure” on the former and “Highly unlikely” on the latter. I’ve been more than a little disappointed in the Democratic Congressional Leadership’s willingness to go toe-to-toe with the President, but that probably won’t matter seeing as how most Americans have stopped believing anything that this President says. As we all see yet again, they have good reason.