York who wrote the article is paid his endowment bones by seeming like the voice of sanity while editing columns to such a degree that non-conservatives are made to look like chumps and conservatives the voice of sanest moderation and good cheer. Somehow this still counts as non-fiction.
But even in the pompadoured world of Byron York, it doesn't take much analysis to discern from this article that George Bush has no effin' clue what he is doing and it is all about spin. Iraq is lost, and all that is left is bad fiction -- and no amount of editing can dispel that fact.
This section is rather long but it adequately elucidates Bush's tenuous hold on either current or past reality:
It would be fair to say that no one fully knew the answer to that question. At times during the conversation, the president seemed vexed — not beaten, not downcast, but vexed — by conditions in Iraq. Bush didn’t say so, but from his words it seemed hard to deny that in some significant measure the insurgents and the sectarian killers are in control in the country, and that the fate of the American mission is in their hands. “The frustration is that the definition of success has now gotten to be, how many innocent people are dying?” the president said. “And if there’s a lot dying, it means the enemy is winning.” He paused. “That doesn’t mean they’re winning.”
But what does it mean? NRO and CNBC's Larry Kudlow asked, “How can you measure winning? The last couple of years, there just don’t seem to be any signals or signs that we’re winning.”
“This is the significant disadvantage we have in this war because the enemy gets to define victory by killing people,” Bush answered. In World War II, Bush said, progress, while hard to gain, was easier to describe. One could point to ships sunk, and battles won. “We don’t get to say that — a thousand of the enemy killed, or whatever the number was,” Bush said. “It’s happening. You just don’t know it.”
So if the U.S. chooses not to reveal how many of the enemy it has killed — and if, in any event, that death toll is not stopping the sectarian violence — then how does one assess what is going on? “I’ve thought long and hard about this, because it is precisely what is frustrating most people,” Bush said. “A lot of people are just saying, ‘You’re not doing enough to win. We’re not winning, you’re not doing enough to win, and I’m frustrated, I want it over with, with victory.’ And I’m trying to figure out a matrix that says things are getting better. I think that one way to measure is less violence than before, I guess…”
But that, of course, leads back to the president’s statement that the enemy gets to define victory by killing people. If the sectarian forces are able to keep up the killing, then they will determine who wins in Iraq.
The latest plan to retake the offensive on defining victory is the so-called benchmark. “The idea is to develop with the Iraqi government a series of benchmarks — oil, federalism, constitutional reform, there’s like 20 different things — and have that developed in a way that they’re comfortable with and we’re comfortable with,” Bush said. Progress toward those goals would give the administration new ways to point toward overall progress in Iraq.
Beyond that, the president seemed to be considering a plan to refine the country’s governmental structure in a way that would accommodate the Shiite, Sunni, and Kurd populations without dividing the country. “We’ve had a lot of people out there saying, split up the country,” Bush said. “That’s not going to work. But there are ways to achieve a more balanced federalism from what some people think is going to happen to them. There could be more — like Texas, we always want less federal, more state. And that’s the way — this balance can be achieved through negotiations. That’s what they’re trying to do.”
Illogic backwards, then forwards and ultimately saying nothing. First of all, his intelligence reports surely tell Bush by now that Al Qaeda is not the major problem in Iraq -- rather, they are saying "hello again" in Afghanistan. Iraq is now, as facilitated by ourselves and Al Qaeda, a nightmare of sectarian violence that has little to do with the latter and at best inadvertently maintained by the former. Sectarian violence is maintained both by a sense of entitlement and a sense of debasement -- and the Americans being there perpetuates both. Having just finished "Imperial Life in the Emerald City" one thing is certain, whatever the Bush's Administration has done it has done in precisely the worst way possible. The contempt his administration has, the demeaning way in which they view the culture, oozes from their pores. It appears in virtually every decision they make. Invading and occupying the country was itself the biggest mistake, but it has been systematically compounded each and every day by errors in how to approach the problem. Iraqi's made the mistake of believing the Bush Administration's propaganda before the invasion which explains, in part, why they are so incredibly pissed, if not outright violent, now. We having relatively less stakes in the matter (as Bush wanted) get demonstrably less pissed.
Bush may have occasional perfunctory meeting with so-called middle east experts (as opposed to giving conservative shills a good chunk of the day), but the ones that make the decisions, and are actually listened to, are the ones who have made the mistakes originally. Their world view being disproved each and every day, rather than reforming their world view, they have blamed it on unexpected externalities, or just not noticed at all.
Cognitive Dissonance -- we all have some degree of this, for example I'm sure that George Allen doesn't think he's in any way a bigot; I'm sure that Mark Foley thought he was just being really friendly and supportive of those young pages; I'm sure Byron thinks that hairdo is really manly and that the Mr. Brady-Cut is the very edge of fashion. But that doesn't change the objective reality for bigots, perverts, and morons. In small degrees cognitive dissonance is embarrassing, but it doesn't get anyone killed. For example, she may have dumped your sorry ass, but if you want to say it was a "mutual" decision to save face, go ahead it doesn't really change reality too much, your friends still know you're a loser.
However, unlike most, Bush's cognitive dissonance is getting thousands of people killed. He is not capable of facing up to it, perhaps for the reasons Steve Gilliard has laid out repeatedly. So someone has got to impose reality upon him. And those who do are the voters -- at least those who don't look at a TV commercial and say "Oooooooh, Jeebus and Raymond's wife are speaking to me in aramaic" and applaud, like when Barb Bush dangles shiny keys in front of her son, but just out of reach.
Bush needs, and the country desperately needs to apply to him, a ballot box pimp slapping, forcing him kicking, screaming, and of course, drooling, into the real world where one cannot manufacture their own reality.
UPDATE: According to fellow "invitee/fluffer" Michael "I'll be right someday" Barrone:
The others were Tony Blankley of the Washington Times, Daniel Henninger of the Wall Street Journal, Charles Krauthammer of the Washington Post, Lawrence Kudlow of CNBC, Kathleen Parker of the Orlando Sentinel, Mark Steyn of the Chicago Sun-Times, and Byron York of National Review–all conservatives of various stripes.
Various stripes, yet of one voice when it comes to enabling the Chimperor. This is what it's come to, it's all about the base. Not one person actually challenging Bush but setting him up with softball after softball. And, as always, their usual line, "he's so much better when we interview him than he is in public", which is a polite way of saying, "I know he looks, talks, and acts, like a moron -- but trust me and the money I am paid to say this to you, he isn't quite as big an idiot as your lying eyes tell you."
Trust me, because you know it is true, if somehow Bush holds on to both houses, and perhaps only one, he will state one thing and one thing only:
"The American people have ratified our policy in Iraq (and now that the election is over I can say) that policy is STAY THE COURSE!"
It won't matter what James Baker says, it won't matter what John Warner or Lindsay Graham say (they'll just roll over anyhow), it won't matter no matter what anyone says. GEORGE BUSH WILL CONTINUE TO FUCK UP ON THE SAME PATH HE'S FUCKED UP THE LAST SIX YEARS. He won't change, he won't admit failure.
There's only one way to get that message through to him, or at least force his hand, and that is to toss as many of his enablers (virtually all Republicans and Joe Lieberman) out on their collective asses.