But here is the cold, hard truth: This war has been hugely mismanaged by this administration, in the face of clear advice to the contrary at every stage, and as a result the range of decent outcomes in Iraq has been narrowed and the tools we have to bring even those about are more limited than ever. What happened?And why did Bush turn this war into a campaign set piece? Why did ideology trump facts and strategy? Why? Because Bush lacks the courage to leave his political base. He doesn't trust the American people. He won't truly engage them and speak frankly to them; he speaks only from staged political set pieces and campaign ad propaganda. He even fakes press conferences. In a democracy he fakes press conferences. If Bush can't give a speech before adoring believers programmed to roar approval at every applause line, then he'd rather not speak at all.
The Bush team got its doctrines mixed up: it applied the Powell Doctrine to the campaign against John Kerry - "overwhelming force" without mercy, based on a strategy of shock and awe at the Republican convention, followed by a propaganda blitz that got its message across in every possible way, including through distortion. . . . [A]las, while the Bush people applied the Powell Doctrine in the Midwest, they applied the Rumsfeld Doctrine in the Middle East. And the Rumsfeld Doctrine is: "Just enough troops to lose."
. . .
Mr. Bush is president, charged with protecting the national interest, and yet from the beginning he has run Iraq policy as an extension of his political campaign.
In a democracy you have to lead by persuasion, not deriding those who bring bad news (the press, your opponent, your own intelligence agencies). Bush acts and thinks like he's entitled to the presidency and that because there's a war, that he's beyond questioning.
But he forgets what America did to the last King George who ruled over her. If recent polling trends are any indication; he's about to relearn some history.