"There's no question there's a lot of skepticism, both Republicans and Democrats." -Bush in USA Today interview, 1/22/2007
Bush says he believes in his new Iraq 'plan' and he thinks that should be enough to go forward, despite the overwhelming numbers of Americans who've registered their objections in poll after poll to his plan to send more soldiers to Iraq. Bush's approval rating has been hovering around 30% since before the midterm congressional elections which destroyed his legislative majority, so it's not as if there's some hidden mass of Americans somewhere giving his presidency a silent mandate to continue.
But, in the face of objections from the majority of Americans, from a majority of legislators in Congress, and from his own generals in the field when he first broached possibility of escalating his Iraq occupation, Bush decided anyway to deploy more troops into the middle of the Iraqi civil war. In a Washington Post article yesterday, Bush was described as 'skeptical of his own military commanders' who told him they didn't need any more troops. The article also reported that Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki told Bush when the two met in Jordan that he didn't want any more American soldiers in Iraq. Still, Bush was said to be confident of his own 'judgment', so, he ignored Maliki, replaced the dissenting generals with agreeing ones, and pressed on with his escalation.
It's amazing for Bush to continue to insist that he's ordained to use our nation's defenses to prop up the dubious foreign regime in Iraq, even if it is the direct product of his military invasion and occupation. The Iraq mission's complete betrayal of our nation's constitution or conscience makes every new obstinacy by Bush - every new escalation - a betrayal of the trust which was inherent in every vote cast on his behalf.
It's that betrayal which is highlighted by his arrogant insistence that he "doesn't listen to the polls." Where then does Bush get his sense of where the country wants to go? In a February interview last year with ABC's Elizabeth Vargas, Bush admitted that he would feel unnecessarily restrained if he was made to actually take heed and follow the will of the people.
"You know, if I made decisions based upon polls, I guess I would be hamstrung," Bush told Vargas. "I make decisions based upon how to protect the American people and how to do my job and how to work with others to spread liberty and democracy no matter how hard it is."
In his last interview before his State of the Union Address Tuesday night - a sharp exchange with USA reporter David Jackson - Bush was intent on substituting his Iraq 'plan' for whatever opinion Americans might have about the wisdom of continuing and escalating his occupation. But, he was just vain enough to muse about how he though his 'plan' would be received here at home. Bush has taken the repudiating results of the last election and recast them to suit his own imagination and ambition -- like in the 'signing statements' he attaches to laws he approves with his signature, signaling his intent to ignore them or break them.
"People want to know whether or not we've got a plan to succeed," Bush reflected. "And I will tell them that the plan I have ... and what I will then summarize in the speech, again, is the best chance to succeed. A lot of Americans understand that failure ... could lead to great danger for the United States - if we fail in Iraq, this country becomes less secure."
"What matters is what happens on the ground," he told Jackson. "That would be the best way to show the American people that the strategy, the new strategy I've outlined, will work.
Americans will know that his 'plan' will work, Bush said, when they see it in action. He wants us to trust his judgment over the advice given by countless generals 'on the ground, by members of Congress from both parties, and from the wisdom of the American people as expressed by their votes in the last election which removed his republican enablers and replaced them with Democrats promising to find a way out of Iraq. This is the end result of his seven-week "listening tour" as Bush cherry-picked through recommendations and commanders to come up with a scheme to back up his earlier declaration that our troops would "stay in Iraq for as long as he's president." Americans will not only take his aggression, he tells us, they'll like it. Americans are sure to continue to oppose his escalation the same as they've opposed his bloody occupation.
"My legacy will be written long after I'm president," Bush said, with the ignorant naivete of a drunk teenager on a dangerously fateful joy-ride with his parent's car. He's convinced that he can outrun our ultimate verdict on his deadly binge of violence by gathering up as many soldiers as he can manage and try to quickly patch up and hide the festering wound he's fostered in Iraq before we force him out of the way.
Bush's legacy is being written now - while the images of the destruction he's mindlessly feeding with his own manufactured aggression are fresh in our view. Bush is pushing past the American people again and looking for some sort of redemptive victory in Iraq to distract from his utter failure in apprehending the 9-11 terrorists, and from his failure to contain the influence of those individuals and groups as they encourage further violence against the U.S., our allies, and our interests. But, there will be no ink-stained throngs for Bush to play liberator to as he feathers his lame-duck imperium in Iraq; only a predictably endless stream of casualties for Americans to measure the impact of his mindless decision to spurn their clear will and move forward with his cynical occupation.