For the last several years, Bush has railed against the Democrats in particular and the anti-war movement in general to proffer an alternative solution to “staying the course” in Iraq. He was right, there was limited value in just grousing. We were already there. That ship had sailed. And the overly simplistic “bring our troops home” was a puddle-deep idea which had a nice marketing angle to it, but was arguably a last resort, throw in the towel and let the region implode strategy. We needed something a little more sophisticated than that.
Enter James Baker and the Iraq Study Group, a bipartisan panel of top notch experts charged with trying to wend some path out of the quagmire. While admitting that aspects of the situation are intractable, they did offer up a plausible strategy which might result in a more positive situation. Given that even Donald Rumsfeld has now concluding that the current strategy is failing, why not give this a try? After all, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. So we’d be insane to not at least give it a whirl.
But no. Bush has flatly rejected some of the key tent-poles of the strategy. And Baker has emphasized that this proposal is not a “fruit salad” where Bush can just cherry-pick certain ideas that appeal to him. It is a comprehensive plan. The Baker team study was clearly the political cover that Bush could have used to alter course in Iraq and still maintain some political credibility. But he’s not willing to humble himself even that far.
There is one opportunity looming – Robert Gates. Gates’ public declaration that the nation was not winning the war — contradicting President Bush’s October 25 statement that “absolutely, we’re winning” is a hopeful indication that Gates is not as clueless as his boss. Bush expressed confidence in Gates, and again, could use Gates’ recommendations for political cover to enact a strategic shift in policy.
Failing that, I think that as a nation we need to consider the impeachment option. I have been against impeachment as I desperately wish to stop the cycle of political witch-hunts that have hopelessly mired our political process. But I believe that this is an application of impeachment as it was intended in The Constitution. If Bush fails to change course, he will have exhibited reckless disregard for the wellbeing of the country as well as the will of the people he serves. That makes him dangerous, and therefore he must go – if only for the safety of the rest of us. We cannot afford to have him ride out his term doing what he is doing.
My hope is that merely the viable threat of impeachment would spur Bush to action. But failing that, make it quick and painless. Hell, the legal work has already been done. We don’t need to vilify him, just get him out of the Capitan’s chair. (Although I admit that exiling him to Elba has a delightful irony to it… but that’s not productive.) The trick is, that Cheny would also need to be impeached as he is maybe the only man left in the federal government who would be more dangerous than Bush. We might count on him to resign instead, as it’s unlikely he’d wish to emerge from his secret lair often enough to serve as President. But for expediency, impeach them both at once. It’s arguably the same case.
The interesting result of this double whammy could be President Pelosi (wouldn’t that just frost Hillary?). Although I think that the realities of political ascension would allow either Cheny or Bush to appoint another V.P. prior to leaving office. But that nominee has to be Senate approved, so it should still amount to a better choice than Bush.
Still, I’m really hoping that merely the threat of impeachment would be a wake-up call to get Bush to move off the dime. I don’t even particularly care if he enacts Baker’s proposal. However, by his own arguments against the Democrats during the 2004 election, he can’t just grouse about how hard it is in Iraq. He needs a plan. He has acknowledged (sorta) that it’s not all sunshine and roses over there. So he shouldn’t insult the public by simply offering marketable fluffy ideas without substance behind them. If he’s got a substantive plan, let’s hear it. If not, enact Baker’s plan. It can’t possibly result in a worse situation than we’re in now.