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Give George Bush His War

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"Rallied by Bush, Skittish G.O.P Now Embraces War as an Issue," is the front page story in the NY Times today.

That's a story that the White House wants us to know.

How do we know they want us to know it? For one thing, it was written by Jim Rutenberg of the Washington Bureau of the NY Times. Thanks to the miracles of modern internet technology you can go to, put rutenberg in their search box, and find out that he's one of the administrations go-to guys when they want to the world to know that the President is in "high spirits," that he took time out to call the US soccer team and wish them well, or that they're honing "strategy for the post-Zarqawi era."

The administration is famous for the tactic of turning weakness into strength and attacking their opponent's strength as if it was weakness. The classic example was to make Bush, the guy who pulled strings to stay out of Vietnam, then went AWOL, into a strutting fighter jock warrior, while using surrogates to tear apart John Kerry, the guy who actually went to war and won actual medals in the face of actual hostile fire.

Let the Democrats learn from that.

George Bush wants the war. He wants it to be his issue.

Yes. Yes, please, let him have it. Let it be all his.

But it has to be all his. I heard Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid on the radio and he said that it was time to get out of Iraq because it had gone on too long, with too many deaths, at too great an expense. Frankly, it sounded weak and wishy-washy. It sounded like the problem was that he -- and the Democrats -- just didn't have the stomach for a long, tough fight. Which is how the Republicans want it to sound.

That's not the position to take. Nor is it the issue.

The position to take is that it's not America's war at all. The issue is that it's George Bush's war. His own, personal, private obsession.

So much so that he was scheming and plotting for years, even before 9/11, to have that war. Then, after 9/11, he lied and misled us, he used members of his administration to lie and mislead, in order to convince both the congress and the American people to have that war.

Once he had the war, he and his people planned it ineptly and executed it disastrously.

It's his ineptitude and his disaster.

When the Democrats call for a date to end the war, they're trying to solve Bush's problems for him. They can't. On a realistic level, simply because he won't listen. On a political level because it puts things on Bush's terms and makes the Democrats sound like they're concerned with mere costs rather than with a moral vision.

What the Democrats should do is call for Bush to march further forward: explain why we're in Iraq, what the goals are, and how we'll achieve them.

This means going through chapter and verse of the reasons that were offered. The first set -- that there were connections to 9/11, al Qaeda and possession of WMD -- were false. That should be formally established, certified and reiterated.

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LARRY BEINHART is the author of SALVATION BOULEVARD,  a major motion picture with Pierce Brosnan, Greg Kinnear, Jennifer Connelly, Marissa Tomei, Ed Harris, and Jim Gaffigan, WAG THE DOG, The LibrarianFog Facts: Searching for Truth in the Land of Spin  and HOW TO WRITE A (more...)

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