Technorati tags: politics; war; disaster; Condoleeza Rice; diplomacy; Bush; The Decider's already decided what to do in Iraq -- he just needs to make it look like someone else's idea
Bush's advise-a-palooza tour continues today, with Bush meeting just about everyone on earth to get their take on 'the way forward' in Iraq. Today, he'll meet with Iraqi Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi and get his take on things. He's met with war critics. He met with his own State Department. He's met with retired generals and he's waiting on a report from the military -- there'll be advice there.
Here's the thing, all this adviseratin' can't be all that helpful. When he met with State, for example, that meant meeting with Condoleeza Rice -- a woman Bush works so closely with that she once slipped up and call the president, "my husband." You'd kinda think he already knows what she thinks. She's all for whatever it is Bush wants to do -- look up 'toady' in the dictionary and there's a picture of Rice. And Condoleeza, like Cheney and Rumsfeld, is a true believer.
What's the purpose of all of this listening? It's about what this White House is always about -- managing perceptions. They don't actually solve problems, they try to convince everyone the problem's been solved. I've become convinced that they think the two are the same thing. The house isn't on fire, you just think it's on fire.
...For months, the White House had been girding for the release of the Iraq Study Group report. They knew from press leaks that it would be critical in tone and that the president wouldn't like some of its ideas—especially a suggested pullback of U.S. troops and a proposal to reach out to Syria and Iran for help in quelling violence in the country.
The challenge for Bush's team was to make the president appear as though he were taking the release of the report seriously, without necessarily embracing its conclusions. In the days following the report's release, Bush the Decider transformed himself into Bush the Listener. Usually prickly with war critics—on the rare occasions he spoke to them at all—the president now invited them in from the cold and kept quiet.
Basically, Bush is going to get info from just about everywhere, pretend to distill it, and announce that he's going to do whatever the hell he wants to do. "There's no question we've got to make sure that the State Department and the Defense Department are -- the efforts and their recommendations are closely coordinated so that when I do speak to the American people, they will know that I've listened to all aspects of government..." Bush said after his meeting with Rice. In other words, they've got to make sure they've got their stories straight.
We know he's not happy with the Iraq Study Group -- that's pretty much a dead issue. Bush is now burying the commission's recommendations with other voices. The ISG was a big deal -- until it became clear that it wouldn't be what Bush wanted. Now it's just one piece of information among many.
In the end, one thing is clear -- Bush is stuck. Nothing about this boondoggle's turning out the way he thought it would and he was totally unprepared for anything other than easy victory. And, despite that, he's still convinced he's right.
New York Daily News:
...Bush is described by another recent visitor as still resolutely defiant, convinced history will ultimately vindicate him.
"I'll be dead when they get it right," he said during an Oval Office meeting last week.