After spending the best part of the day cleaning out closets and cleaning, tossing stuff out and rearranging the storage shelves in the laundry room, I don’t have much left over in the way of original thought tonight. They say that the new year is a good time to lighten the load, and I’m taking it to heart. Now, I’m just whupped.
But Keith Olberman seems never to be at a loss for words or razor-sharp eloquence. Here’s the transcript from his broadcast last night on MSNBC regarding The Decider’s war escalation speech:
And lastly, as promised, a Special Comment about the President's address last night.
Only this President, only in this time, only with this dangerous, even Messianic certitude, could answer a country demanding an exit strategy from
Only this President, could look out over a vista of 3,008 dead and 22,834 wounded in Iraq, and finally say "where mistakes have been made, the responsibility rests with me" — only to follow that, by proposing to repeat the identical mistake in Iran.
Only this President could extol the "thoughtful recommendations of the Iraq Study Group," and then take its most far-sighted recommendation — "engage Syria and Iran" - and transform it into "threaten Syria and Iran" — when Al-Qaeda would like nothing better than for us to threaten Syria, and when President Ahmmadinejad would like nothing better than to be threatened by us.
This is diplomacy by skimming; it is internationalism by drawing pictures of Superman in the margins of the text books; it is a presidency of Cliff Notes.
And to Iran and Syria — and, yes, also to the insurgents in Iraq — we must look like a country, run by the equivalent of the drunken pest, who gets battered to the floor of the saloon by one punch, then staggers to his feet, and shouts at the other guy's friends, "ok, which one of you is next?"
Mr. Bush, the question is no longer "what are you thinking?," but rather "are you thinking at all?"
"I have made it clear to the Prime Minister and
And yet — without any authorization from the public who spoke so loudly and clearly to you in November's elections; without any consultation with a Congress (in which key members of your own party like Senator Brownback and Senator Coleman and Senator Hagel are fleeing for higher ground); without any awareness that you are doing exactly the opposite of what Baker-Hamilton urged you to do, you seem to be ready to make an open-ended commitment (on America's behalf) to do whatever you want, in Iran.
Our military, Mr. Bush, is already stretched so thin by this bogus adventure in
It is so weary, that many of the troops you have just consigned to Iraq, will be on their second tours, or their third tours, or their fourth tours — and now you're going to make them take on Iran and Syria as well?
Who is left to go and fight, sir?
Who are you going to send to "interrupt the flow of support from
The line is from the movie "
'Middle of a debate over the lives and deaths of another 21,500 of our citizens in
Maybe that's the point: to shift the attention away from just how absurd and childish, is this latest war strategy (strategy, that is, for the war already under way, and not the one, on deck).
We are to put 17,500 more troops into
In and of itself, that is an awful and insulting term.
The lives of 21,500 more Americans endangered, to give "breathing space" to a government that just turned the first and perhaps the most sober act of any Democracy — the capitol punishment of an ousted dictator — into a vengeance lynching so barbaric, and so lacking in the solemnities necessary for credible authority, that it might have offended the Ku Klux Klan of the 19th Century.
And what will our men and women in
The ones who will truly live — and die — during what Mr. Bush said last night will be a "year ahead" which "will demand more patience, sacrifice, and resolve"?
They will try to seal up
Mr. Bush did not mention that while our people are trying to do that, the factions in the civil war will no longer have to focus on killing each other but rather, they can focus anew on killing our people.
Because last night the President foolishly all but announced that we will be sending these 21,500 poor souls over — but, no more after that — and if the whole thing fizzles out, we're going home.
The plan fails militarily.
The plan fails symbolically.
The plan fails politically.
Most importantly, perhaps, Mr. Bush, the plan fails because it still depends on your credibility.
You speak of mistakes, and of the responsibility "resting" with you. But you do not admit to making those mistakes.
And you offer us nothing to justify this clenched fist towards
In fact, when you briefed news correspondents off-the-record before the speech, they were told, once again, "if you knew what we knew… if you saw what we saw…"
"If you knew what we knew," was how we got into this morass in
The problem arose, when it turned out that the question wasn't whether or not we knew what you knew but whether you knew what you knew.
You, sir, have become the President who cried wolf.
All that you say about
We no longer have a clue, sir. We have heard too many stories.
Many of us are as inclined to believe you just shuffled the Director of National Intelligence over to the State Department, because he thought you were wrong about
Many of us are as inclined to believe you just put a pilot in charge of ground wars in
Your assurances, sir, and your demands that we trust you, have lost all shape and texture.
They are now merely fertilizer for conspiracy theories.
They are now fertilizer indeed.
The pile has been built slowly and with seeming care.
I read this list last night, before the President's speech, and it bears repetition, because its shape and texture are perceptible only in such a context.
Before Mr. Bush was elected, he said nation-building was wrong for
He said he would never put
He told us about WMD. Mobile labs. Secret sources. Aluminum tubes. Yellow-cake.
He has told us the war is necessary because Saddam was a material threat. Because of 9/11. Because of Osama Bin Laden. Al-Qaeda. Terrorism in General. To liberate
Because 439 words in to the speech last night, he trotted out 9/11 again.
In advocating and prosecuting this war he passed on a chance to get Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi. To get Muqtada Al-Sadr.
To get Bin Laden.
He sent in fewer troops than the Generals told him to.
He ordered the Iraqi army disbanded and the Iraqi government "De-Baathified."
He short-changed Iraqi training. He neglected to plan for widespread looting. He did not anticipate sectarian violence.
He sent in troops without life-saving equipment. Gave jobs to foreign contractors, and not Iraqis. He staffed
He and his government told us "
He has insisted more troops were not necessary. He has now insisted more troops are necessary.
He has insisted it's up to the generals, and then removed some of the generals who said more troops would not be necessary.
He has trumpeted the turning points: The fall of Baghdad; the death of Uday and Qusay; the capture of Saddam; A provisional government; a charter; a constitution; the trial of Saddam; elections; purple fingers; another government; the death of Saddam.
He has assured us: we would be greeted as liberators with flowers; as they stood up, we would stand down. We would stay the course; we were never about "stay the course." We would never have to go door-to-door in
He told us the enemy was Al-Qaeda, foreign fighters, terrorists, Baathists, and now
The war would pay for itself. It would cost 1.7 billion dollars. 100 billion. 400 billion. Half a trillion. Last night's speech alone cost another six billion.
And after all of that, now it is his credibility versus that of generals, diplomats, allies, Democrats, Republicans, the Iraq Study Group, past presidents, voters last November, and the majority of the American people.
Oh, and one more to add, tonight:
Mr. Bush, this is madness.
You have lost the military.
You have lost the Congress to the Democrats.
You have lost most of the Iraqis.
You have lost many of the Republicans.
You have lost our Allies.
You are losing the credibility, not just of your Presidency, but more importantly of the office itself.
And most imperatively, you are guaranteeing that more American troops will be losing their lives, and more families their loved ones. You are guaranteeing it!
This becomes your legacy, sir: How many of those you addressed last night as your "fellow citizens" you just sent to their deaths?
And for what, Mr. Bush?
So the next President has to pull the survivors out of
Good night and good luck.
Hat tip: Crooks and Liars