The return of George W. Boilerplate and his amen corner
For months, conservatives were complaining, Bush was getting beaten up by the Democrats on Iraq and he wasn’t responding, he needed to come out of the White House and explain the war better. And now he’s done it, and his supporters are back in their rah-rah mode about the great speech he’s given on Iraq. Unfortunately, with tiny variations, it’s exactly the same as all the other speeches he’s given on Iraq, founded on the same, totally unsupported assertion that democracy will pacify Iraq and the rest of the Muslim world. And Bush’s supporters all echo the same arguments. All they have to offer is a hope, the hope that somehow the Iraq terror insurgency will go away, which will allow democracy to take root, which will alter the very character of the entire Dar al-Islam! The one great advantage Bush and his supporters have over the Democrats is that the Bushites have an argument and a narrative. True, it doesn’t correspond with reality, but it is internally coherent and it appeals to positive American ideals. The Democrats have no argument, no narrative—nothing except reaction against Bush.
While the speech was, as I’ve said, pretty much like all his other speeches, in one respect it was significantly worse. I refer to Bush’s comment that his policy seeks to attract the Ba’athists and jihadists in Iraq to support our side. In other words, he want to include our enemies in the government. In any honest political debate, that would not be called a strategy for victory, but an invitation to defeat. Yet it matches the overall recent drift of his policy, in which he has been making positive gestures toward the Hezbollah in Lebanon and Islamic Jihad in the Palestinian territories.
Also, Bush gave the speech, as he seems to have given all of his speeches on Iraq, to a military audience, clearly conveying the message that he doesn’t feel confident to address an audience of civilians on this urgent national issue, but must have an audience of ready-made, 22-year-old yes-men, thrilled to be in the presence of their commander in chief. It is as though Bush sees America as a banana republic, or as a country like Pakistan, in which the only reliable national institution is the military.
To paraphrase James Joyce in Ulysses, the Iraq war, and the fraudulent, empty, brain-dead “debate” on the Iraq war, is a nightmare from which I—and all of us—cannot awaken.