Morning Report 8/22/05
Bush Announces Withdrawal

President will leave Crawford immediately to hunt for weapons of mass distraction

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U.S. Army

Helmet safety: Above, in a tight spot on July 28, Sergeant Terry Morgan of the Montana Army National Guard searches a hut in Kirkuk for insurgents and weapons. Below, Bush and Lance Armstrong protect their noggins during a ride in Crawford on August 20.

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Paul Morse/White House

George W. Bush's handlers have finally figured out how to extricate the POTUS and his party from a nasty, impossible, unwinnable situation.

Yes, trapped at Prairie Chapel Ranch by Cindy Sheehan and other insurgents, they've decided — typically — to take the offensive: Bush is leaving on a speaking tour to promote the idea that we're engaged in an endless war.

We're here! We're queer for war! Get used to it!

The problem for Bush is that even the straight media are now casting a queer eye on him.

Take ol' mainstream CNN, for instance. Reporting this morning that Bush "will launch a new round of speeches to rally support for the war in Iraq," starting with a speech this afternoon to veterans in Utah, the pedestrian news service added this cluster of information starting in the fifth paragraph—significantly, even before Sheehan's name was first mentioned:

    In a previous attempt this summer to boost sagging support for the war, the president delivered a prime-time, nationally televised address in June to a military audience in Fort Bragg, North Carolina. In his speech, Bush assured Americans that the conflict in Iraq was worth the sacrifice.

    The sacrifice includes 1,862 U.S. troops deaths, including a soldier who was killed by a roadside bomb Saturday near Baghdad, the U.S. military said.

    "Our mission in Iraq is clear: We're hunting down the terrorists. We're helping Iraqis build a free nation that is an ally in the war on terror," Bush said in June.

    "We're advancing freedom in the broader Middle East. We are removing a source of violence and instability, and laying the foundation of peace for our children and our grandchildren."

    But his remarks did little to move public opinion. A CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll conducted August 5-7 found that 54 percent of those surveyed thought the 2003 invasion of Iraq was a mistake.

    The 9/11 Commission's report, issued in July 2004, found no evidence that Iraq had any operational relationship with al Qaeda.

    The CIA concluded in February that Iraq had become a training ground for terrorists who wish to attack U.S. troops — a haven critics say did not exist before Saddam Hussein's ouster.

If this is the way the mainstream media are going to cover the remainder of Bush's term, the GOP is facing disaster in next year's congressional elections.

Already, moderate Republicans like Chuck Hagel are distancing themselves from Bush by bringing up comparisons between Iraq and Vietnam. Hagel points out that the Iraq war has destabilized the Middle East —oh, really? — and he adds:

    We're past that stage now because now we are locked into a bogged-down problem not unsimilar, dissimilar to where we were in Vietnam. The longer we stay, the more problems we're going to have.

Even the GOP senators who are trying to help Bush — or make it seem like they're trying to help Bush — are only making things worse. South Carolina's Lindsey Graham, for instance, said on Fox News Sunday:

    "The worst-case scenario is not staying four years. The worst-case scenario is leaving a dysfunctional, repressive government behind that becomes part of the problem in the war on terror and not the solution."

I guess Graham was talking about Iraq. But he might as well have been talking about the "dysfunctional, repressive government" run by Dick Cheney, Don Rumsfeld, and the other Bush handlers. You know, the guys who are part of the problem, not the solution.



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