Why's everybody always picking on him?
They say it was a war of choice that had no exit strategy and distracted from our mission in Afghanistan, where we were wiping out the terrorists who actually plotted the 9/11 attacks. They claim it was a poorly planned venture that sent our soldiers into a fight where it's tough to distinguish friends from foes without giving them the equipment they needed to maximize their safety. Now they're even suggesting that we bring the troops home, or at least pull them out of Iraq, as soon as possible.
Please. What kind of fringe whackjobs believe that sort of stuff? Aside from around 60 percent of the American public, that is.
OK, so maybe Bush's war policies aren't popular. But you can't deny the reality that things are getting better every day in Iraq under his watch. Except for those thousands of American troops and tens of thousands of Iraqi civilians who have died already. And the dozens of people who continue to die there daily due to the raging violence of what Bush's former secretary of state, Colin Powell, has begun to call a civil war. And the polls showing that about the only thing on which Iraq's Shiites and Sunnis agree is that they want U.S. forces to leave quickly.
All right, smart aleck, but what about Afghanistan? It's Bush's great shining military success, proof positive that you can stabilize a Texas-sized country with a comparative handful of troops. That's why we probably should ignore the rapid re-emergence of the country's illegal opium trade and the reports that Afghan police are "largely incapable of carrying out routine law enforcement work" five years after the Taliban's ouster.
We also shouldn't pay attention to the repeated calls in the Iraq Study Group's report, released today, for more troops to keep the Taliban from regaining their footholds in vast swaths of the mountainous country. After all, that very collection of liberal Bush haters dared to suggest the withdrawal of most U.S. soldiers from Iraq by 2008 and negotiations with Iran and Syria to help ease tensions in the Middle East. Even the decidedly non-liberal Republican members agreed with those ideas, which, um, just proves how outlandish they are.
Look, Bush's closest advisers know the score, and that's all that matters. They know nothing's wrong. That's why former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, architect of the Iraq war strategy, resigned two days after telling Bush that "it is time for a major adjustment" because "what U.S. forces are currently doing in Iraq is not working well enough or fast enough." (You can tell he's serious by the way he doesn't blame himself.) And it's certainly why the new defense secretary, Robert Gates, told Congress this week that we aren't winning in Iraq.
All of the information above must lead Bush to one inevitable conclusion: Stay the course. Just don't call it "stay the course" while you do. Because as Bush long has said, he'll stick to his guns even if his wife and dog are the only ones who still agree with him.
And Barney isn't calling a press conference any time soon.