Friday, August 24, 2007


Josh Marshall makes a very important point about the current American President:

His entire legacy as president is bound up in Iraq. Which is another way of saying that his legacy is pretty clearly an irrecoverable shambles. That is why, as the folly of the enterprise becomes more clear, he must continually puff it up into more and more melodramatic and world-historical dimensions. A century long ideological struggle and the like. For the president a one in a thousand shot at some better outcome is well worth it, no matter what the cost. Because at least that's a one in a thousand shot at not ending his presidency with the crushing verdict history now has in store. It's also worth just letting things keep on going as they are forever because, like Micawber, something better might turn up. Going double or nothing by expanding the war into Iran might be worth it too for the same reason. For him, how can it get worse?

And when you boil all this down what it comes down to is that the president now has very different interests than the country he purports to lead.

As serious as this is, there is more to our problem: there are a great many people who have placed their bets with Bush and they will wiggle and squirm and lie to avoid taking the inevitable loss. Here one thinks not only of the neo-cons like William Kristol and Bill Bennett but also "scholars" like Pollack who argued for overthrowing Saddam, talk radio personalities like Sean Hannity, and pundits like Charles Krauthammer and Victor Davis Hanson.

Recently, Hanson wrote that "civilian Americans tend to lack a basic understanding of military matters" and as a result, as he said on Slots Bennett's radio show yesterday, we can't handle the deaths in Iraq because we can't put them into historical perspective. This is a tremendous moral confusion, probably deliberate, between wars judged worth fighting (WW II) and wars judged not worth fighting (Vietnam, Iraq) and it is just one of the ways that those who have placed the losing bets will use to deflect their responsibility for the fiasco in Iraq because, much like Bush, they can't be seen as having been terribly mistaken. If they were seen that way, who would listen to them, read their columns, buy their books or pay to hear them talk?

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