And here I think we get back to the root of the matter: We are bigger than Iraq.His speech other day in front of the VFW was hard to watch. Every time the President steps up to a mic, it reminds me of a perp sitting down for a chat with Lenny Brisco on the old Law and Order series. First comes the denial (I don't know nuthin' bout no gun!), then then anger (I got nuthin' to say to you pricks.) Then the bargaining (OK. OK. Let's say I did have a gun. Maybe it's not the same gun.) Finally, the perp sinks into depression and despair, buries his ruddy face in his greasy little hands, and lawyers up.
By that I do not mean we, as America, are bigger or better than Iraq as a country. I mean that that sum of our national existence is not bound up in what happens there. The country will go on. Whatever happens, we'll recover from it. And whatever might happen, there are things that matter much more to this country's future -- like whether we have a functioning military any more, whether our economy is wrecked, whether this country tears itself apart over this catastrophe. But we'll go on and look back at this and judge what happened.
Not so for the president. For him, this is it. He's not bigger than this. 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.
Bush jumbled syntax gives the appearance of a perp bouncing from one stage of grief to another, like a human version of pong. He clings deperately to his denial, but easily slips into anger at those who oppose him. His less-than-lame Vietman analogy was an effort to bargain his way out of the hole he's dug for his Presidency. All the while, his depression envelopes him like the cloud of dirt that follows Pig Pen in that old comic strip, Peanuts.
Only acceptance can now save George W. Bush's soul, and ours. Let us close with a prayer:
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.