Wednesday, October 18, 2006

The End of the Line for Bush

Al Queda in Iraq is parading in the streets of Ramadi. Al Sadr's militia is blowing up police stations. The Iraqi government is impotent, and clerics have discussions about issuing "fatwa's" condemning the incessant violence. A state department functionary goes on Al Jazzera and talks about our government's "stupidity and arrogance." Iran is overjoyed that its neighbor is in chaos and ripe for the picking. All this signals the end of the line for President Bush...there is nothing that can save him now.

On November 7, 2006, the American people will remove the Republican party from at least the lower house of congress, and possibly the Senate. The primary reason for the devastating defeat will be the failure of Bush's grand plan for Iraq after years of his denying the obvious - that the plan was doomed from the day Iraqis rioted in Bahgdad while unprepared American soldiers watched in amazement. Bush had a plan for the war, but he had no plan for the peace. The post-war chaos gave America's enemies plenty of room and time to develop and implement their strategy for thwarting Bush's ambitions. It is now clear that they have succeeded, and a phased withdrawal from Iraq is now the only option other than staying to face an unsatisfactory war of attrition with an enemy that has all the advantages.

What does this mean for Bush? Basically, he's finished. His credibility is gone, thanks to his and his staff's unwarranted optimism on Iraq over several years...the great majority of Americans finally realized they were being hoodwinked. Now comes the humiliation of the withdrawal amidst the crowing of enemies Bush vowed to destroy. Even Americans who opposed Bush will be embarassed by the catcalls of the Muslim extremists, who now feel more empowered than ever. Will Bush be able to lead America on any front, domestic or foreign? Not likely...

What can Bush do in order to leave office in 2009 with any legacy at all? His only option is to put a hand out to the Democrats on one or more of the big domestic issues - Social Security, Medicare, immigration, or trade. If he can be seen as a pragmatic "pusher" toward solutions the Amercan people will accept, perhaps one or more breakthroughs can be accomplished. These successes ultimately will be balanced against the Iraq failure in calculations that judge his legacy.

Does Bush really have the ability to be a uniter instead of a divider? It's doubtful, but miracles can happen. November 7th is not far away, and by April of 2007 the pattern of politics for the next two years will be settled. Bush, as a power president, is history. We'll find out if he has any other persona.

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