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Friday, February 16, 2007

This is the Bush I voted for

David Broder has an interesting Wapo piece today, one which echoes my own thoughts as I have been watching Bush in his latest interviews and press conferences.

It may seem perverse to suggest that, at the very moment the House of Representatives is repudiating his policy in Iraq, President Bush is poised for a political comeback. But don't be astonished if that is the case.

Like President Bill Clinton after the Democrats lost control of Congress in 1994, Bush has gone through a period of wrenching adjustment to his reduced status. But just as Clinton did in the winter of 1995, Bush now shows signs of renewed energy and is regaining the initiative on several fronts.

More important, he is demonstrating political smarts that even his critics have to acknowledge.

His reaction to the planned House vote opposing the increase he ordered in U.S. troops deployed to Iraq illustrates the point.

When Bush faced reporters on Wednesday morning, he knew that virtually all those in the Democratic majority would be joined by a significant minority of Republicans in voting today to decry the "surge" strategy.

He did three things to diminish the impact of that impending defeat.

First, he argued that the House was at odds with the Senate, which had within the past month unanimously confirmed Gen. David H. Petraeus as the new commander in Iraq -- the man Bush said was the author of the surge strategy and the man who could make it work. Bush has made Petraeus his blocking back in this debate -- replacing Vice President Cheney, whose credibility is much lower.

Second, he minimized the stakes in the House debate by endorsing the good motives of his critics, rejecting the notion that their actions would damage U.S. troops' morale or embolden the enemy -- all by way of saying that the House vote was no big deal.

And third, by contrasting today's vote on a nonbinding resolution with the pending vote on funding the war in Iraq, he shifted the battleground to a fight he is likely to win -- and put the Democrats on the defensive. Much of their own core constituency wants them to go beyond nonbinding resolutions and use the power of the purse to force Bush to reduce the American commitment in Iraq.

But congressional Democrats are leery of seeming to withhold resources from the 150,000 troops who will be fighting in that country once the surge is complete; that is why they blocked Republicans from offering resolutions of their own in the House or Senate pledging to keep financing the war. Democrats did not want an up-or-down vote on that question, but Bush has placed it squarely before them.

In other respects, too, Bush has been impressive in recent days.

He has been far more accessible -- and responsive -- to the media and public, holding any number of one-on-one interviews, both on and off the record, leading up to Wednesday's televised news conference. And he has been more candid in his responses than in the past.

This is just being noticed by some, but others of us have noticed a change in Bush in recent days, his whole attitude and body language is one of confidence.

The better the news that is coming out daily now, the more he understands that although he was late in implementing this new strategy, it is, indeed, starting to work before it is even fully enforced.

He understands that congress can make all the noise it wants, but short of completely defunding, they are helpless because he IS commander in chief and strategy is his decision and his alone.

Bush has yet another advantage here which is commonly overlooked.

He has no future elections. He can afford to stand on his prinicples while members of congress and even some in the senate must compromise theirs in the name of their next election.

He has nothing to lose by fighting to win.

He can also afford to be generous in his words about congress and democrats, because in contrast, the nicer he is about them, the more their attacks look small and ill informed as they continue to ignore the daily news coming out of Iraq showing progress.

Instead of shoving the good news coming from Iraq in their faces, he is basically feeding them all the rope he can and allowing them to hang themselves.... this is the Bush I voted for and it is a brilliant strategy.

From The Moderate Voice:

This was the most glaring part of Bush’s statement: he brushed off the importance of the nonbinding resolution as meaningful, which might be news to some of the GOPers who dire consquences if it’s passed and who in roundabout (and not so roundabout ways) suggest that Democrats who seek a nonbinding resolution don’t care about the troops. Bush cut his losses and pooh-poohed the vote’s importance thus shifting the real fight to binding war-related votes to come.

From Don Surber:

Bush will be judged by the war and the war alone. Unlike LBJ, Bush didn’t run away from his. He’s pulling a Truman; he may yet wind up a Lincoln.

From Jules Crittenden:

I suspect, with the positive surge results and mounting evidence of Iranian meddling we’re already seeing in Baghdad, the surrender-happy Dem Cong with its obstructionist agenda is on the verge of seizing a negative from the jaws of its polling positives.

I will ask again, does anyone think the democrats have planned their "exit strategy" from working towards defeat to working towards success and when they launch it, IF it exists, will it be as transparent to their voters as it is to us that they are once again letting polls dictate their actions instead of what is right or wrong?

I have been firmly encouraging congress to vote and show their colors, because the more good news we see coming from Iraq, the more weapons we have in our arsenals, via their own words, to use against them.

Count on the fact that we will.......