Bush told the author, Robert Draper, in a later session, “I’m playing for October-November.” That is when he hopes the Iraq troop increase will finally show enough results to help him achieve the central goal of his remaining time in office: “To get us in a position where the presidential candidates will be comfortable about sustaining a presence,” and, he said later, “stay longer.”At this point, the purpose of staying is to stay. (Actually, this has always been one of the central reasons for the invasion.)
And, of course, the spineless, hapless Democrats have gotten themselves played again and will sign up for another extension of the war - based on lies, and spin, and fiction. -- Unless you think Arthur Silber's right, and the Democrats haven't gotten played because they are as sincerely for the war as the Republicans. (Me, I'll split the difference: some the former, some the latter -- and the rest are just as helpless as you, Noble Readers, and I.)
But in any event, as Slate reports:
[A]lmost nobody in a position of power or much influence is advocating a complete withdrawal from Iraq.Note that this is not said, as it should be, with wailing and the gnashing of teeth. It's said, frankly, as a reassuring statement. Of course we'll have some draw down, but we won't, y'know, stop occupying the country. Imperialism forefend!
And by Nobody, that statement is including Obama, and Edwards, and Clinton. (Bill Richardson is talking about ending it; but he's not a front-runner candidate. Ditto Dennis Kucinich.) Even the Democrats aren't planning on ending the war. They're just planning on turning it down a few notches.
But about one thing we can be clear: Bush's legacy. That would be many hundreds of thousands of dead Iraqis -- quite likely as many as a million by this point.
The shredding of the American constitution, the corruption and politicalization of our government, the destruction of a great American city, the years of lost time on global warming, to say nothing of thousands of dead American soldiers -- all those are but pendants to his central legacy of blood and death.
Unless, of course, he attacks Iran. That would shift the deaths of Iraqis from the center of his legacy. Probably the only thing remaining that could.
Bush says in that Times piece that he fights against self-pity. I'm sure he does. But only a sociopath could think that he is the one to be pitied in the ruins of his works.
But the central goal, the central goal, of his remaining term is to ensure that we stay even after he leaves.
Half a league, half a league, half a league onwards...
Update: James Fallows has some reactions to a different part of the same NY Times story. (via)
Update 2: Keith Olbermann has some reactions to the same part of that NY Times story that caught my eye. The only part to which I take strong exception is Olbermann's statement -- repeated more than once, in different words -- that Bush "hope[s] that those from his political party fighting to succeed him, will prolong this unendurable disaster into the next decade". I don't think he is only hoping that Republican nominees will "be comfortable about sustaining a presence"; if the news article is to be trusted, that's not what he said. He hopes the nominees -- all the nominees, at least all the major ones, including the Democrats -- will sustain a presence if they win. And you know what? As Slate pointed out, en passant, Bush has reasons to be hopeful on that score. He isn't just "playing" for the Republicans: he's playing us all. And he's succeeding.