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Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Right on cue (Are those my cues? Yes, and they must be dry by now)
Posted by Jill | 6:00 AM
Once again, the White House is in deep trouble over Iraq, with U.S. News and World Report saying:

Administration officials yesterday denied President Bush was considering a "gradual" pullout from Iraq in light of plummeting GOP support for his policies, as the New York Times had reported in Monday's edition. The AP reports the White House said Bush "is not considering a withdrawal of US forces," and the Financial Times calls the White House's message "defiant" in the face of "intensifying bipartisan pressure." The Los Angeles Times also says "the White House brushed off calls from a growing chorus of Republican lawmakers to change course in the conflict," while McClatchy runs a similar report under the headline "Bush Stays Course, Rebuffs Demand For Change."

Yet ABC World News said White House officials "are extremely worried." White House spokesman Tony Snow "will not say that on camera," but one White House official told ABC, "We are in panic mode." The CBS Evening News reported, "Senior Pentagon officials tell CBS News a debate is under way to determine what conditions must exist short of victory to begin pulling troops out of Iraq. The White House publicly denies this, but clearly political support is weakening inside the Administration."

So with support for Bush's penis-enlarging war in Iraq dwindling to only the most deluded lunatics of his base, what's a president to do?

Why, do what's worked before, that's what -- play the fear card:

Senior U.S. intelligence officials tell ABC News new intelligence suggests a small al Qaeda cell is on its way to the United States, or may already be here.

The White House has convened an urgent multi-agency meeting for Thursday afternoon to deal with the new threat.


"World News" closer between Charles Gibson and Brian Ross:

Charles Gibson: The obvious question, Brian, is how hard and how specific is the intelligence?

Brian Ross: Not hard, but good. It's being taken very seriously, in connection with increased chatter, e-mail traffic back and forth, the attacks in London, and a general concern, as Secretary Chertoff said today, that summer seems to be a time that al Qaeda likes to attack.

Charles Gibson: And there's been a bunch of tapes that have been coming from al Qaeda lately.

Brian Ross: In fact, Zawahri put out his eighth tape today and says he had easy access to the Internet, and he threatened new attacks against London.

Charles Gibson: Once was the day when this intelligence came in, they would raise the level of concern going to a different color.

Brian Ross: The concern, now, by doing that and not telling Americans what they can do, where the attack is coming, serves no useful purpose.

Especially when that might indicate something like a PLAN to deal with a terrorist attack -- if in fact one is in the offing.

Let's go back and consult our man Keith Olbermann on just how handily these threats have always comeon the heels of political trouble for this president, shall we?

The more we examine how this Administration has handled these so-called threats, and as we look at this Administration's history, going back to prior to 9/11, when his administration was already damaged by the U.S. spy plane captured in China, a U.S. Navy Submarine being operated by Bush cronies and campaign contributors ramming and sinking a Japanese fishing vessel, and general ineptitude and corruption already clearly visible, this report should make us very, very afraid -- not because terrorist cells may be here or on their way here, but because history has shown us that when this President is briefed about an impending attack, he does nothing -- it is allowed to play out, as the 9/11 attacks were allowed to play out -- if it means political advantage to George W. Bush.

This president desperately needs vindication. His war has proven to be perhaps the biggest foreign policy blunder in our nation's history. He has destabilized the entire Middle East in his ridiculous quest to prove something to his father. His approval ratings are at Nixonian levels. He needs something to happen, and he needs it quickly. Why NOT let a terrorist attack play out? It worked for him last time.

On July 26, 2001, Dana Milbank reported in the Washington Post:

It may be premature to conclude that Bush has lost control of his agenda, but lawmakers and strategists in both parties said that Bush's next year is much more likely to look like the fractious month of July than like the orderly march toward Bush's tax cut this spring.

The troubles began, of course, with Vermont Sen. James M. Jeffords's departure from the GOP, giving control of the Senate to the Democrats. But the problems are nearly as bad in the House, where moderates who supported Bush's tax cut are proving recalcitrant on other issues. They rebelled against GOP leaders on campaign finance reform and held up Bush's "faith-based" legislation over concerns about discrimination. Next week, they're likely to oppose Bush's proposal to drill in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

Siding with Bush "was easy when we were on fiscal issues," said Rep. Jim Ramstad (R-Minn.), a moderate. But things have changed as the debate moves toward non-tax issues. "I represent the people in Minnesota, and Minnesota's not Texas," Ramstad said. "That's why coalitions have to be built on some of these nonfiscal issues, like managed-care reform." Embryonic stem cell research is another issue that promises to cause Bush problems on the Hill, where yesterday Bush adviser Karl Rove was grilled on the subject by Ramstad during a meeting with a group of moderate House Republicans.

Bush's options for reclaiming the agenda are not good.

He can't make Trumanesque claims about a do-nothing Congress, because half the place is controlled by Republicans. Bush can't persuasively attack the Democratic Senate when the Republican House is causing him nearly as much grief. Alternatively, Bush could try to use the bully pulpit to rally the public to pressure Congress into action. But polls indicate that Americans are content, even complacent, at the moment and unlikely to be stirred to anger. "There's not demand on the part of the public for anything right now," GOP pollster Frank Luntz said.


As he leaves for Texas for the month of August, the president has two options, neither one entirely attractive: fight for his agenda and risk gridlock; or acquiesce to moderates, passing laws but surrendering many of his key priorities.


Pollster John Zogby argues that such unyielding tactics by Bush will lose their effectiveness even further in the fall as members of Congress start thinking about their 2002 reelection bids. "His first six months have been strange in that he's been a very conservative president," Zogby said. "That doesn't build a governing majority. If he continues what he's been doing, he loses ground."

Less than two months later, four planes would be hijacked, the Twin Towers would be destroyed and the Pentagon damaged, and this presidency that was over before it began would be resurrected like Dracula out of a moldy, filthy coffin.

So as you hear Michael Chertoff over the next 48 hours opine that it's such a nice day for a terrorist attack because terrorists like to attack during the summer months, watch Olbermann's reports again. Think about the trouble Bush is in. Think of the trouble he was already in during the summer of 2001. Then remind yourself that there are many ways to be a terrorist. The Department of Defense defines terrorism as "the unlawful use of -- or threatened use of -- force or violence against individuals or property to coerce or intimidate governments or societies, often to achieve political, religious, or ideological objectives." That this Administration has already a) made up threats that don't exist, and b) exaggerated threats that aren't significant, well, 2 + 2 = 4.

And the next time your wingnut friends tell you that George W. Bush's war in Iraq has made us safer and that's why we need to elect a tough guy like Rudy Giuliani, ask them about Chertoff's statement yesterday that "We could easily be attacked. The intent to attack us remains as strong as it was on Sept. 10, 2001." If Bush has been so effective in deflecting terrorism due to the Iraq War, why can we, six years later, still be so easily be attacked?

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