Monday, December 15, 2008

Shoes for industry! Shoes for the dead!

By Carl

Despite the igominy of suffering the worst insult an Iraqi can afford, short of shooting him, George W. Bush managed to steal some of Obama's thunder and theme today, and showed that he is still going to either extricate his legacy or go down whining:

The most recent draft stipulates that American forces will withdraw from Iraqi cities by June 2009 and from the country by the end of 2011, and contains amendments made by the Americans in response to Iraqi demands made last month.

"The deliberations are continuing in the cabinet in order to ascertain the scope of the amendments that have been added in order to reach a clear agreement and to see if it is acceptable to parliament," Safaldin al-Safi said. "The American response contained many positive elements, but at the same time it contained clauses that require more discussion," the head of Iraq's parliamentary affairs committee said in a statement Tuesday.

Many would say that this is Bush trying to steal Obama's thunder, and I'm sure there's some element to it. After all, Obama ran directly against the Bush invasion record, a point magnified by Senator John McCain's famous comment that Obama should have run against Bush in 2004 if he felt that strongly about it.

The November election was a clear and direct repudiation of Bush's tactics over the past 8 years and the wrong-headed decision to invade Iraq in the first place. That has to sting any man, but a man like Bush, whose entire Presidency seems to have been predicated on the "Look what I can do, Daddy!" tactics of a four-year old, it must be a very deeply felt rebuke.

Which is why I'm not convinced this is entirely the attempt on Bush's part to leave a "Fuck You" card on the Oval Office desk.

I think Bush, a young man, is facing up to decades of trying to repair not his image, but his self-esteem. It hit that deeply.

In recent interviews that I've watched, Bush seems more introspective, more appreciative of the fact that he made a mess of things -- even if he'll deny the majesty of his bungles and blunders. I attribute this to the November 4 slap in the face. Rightly or wrongly placed as Bush's surrogate, had McCain made it close -- a tight race in the electoral college or the popular vote-- Bush would walk away with his head held high and his self-perceived dignity intact.

But that didn't happen, did it? And despite some of the right wing's
most egregious fanbois claiming that Bush is still loved and cherished, well, let's just say that the parties who love and cherish him are not the kind of people I'd invite to dinner.

It is on this landscape that Bush surveys the damage he has done to American credibility and economic and military strength, and tries to repair the damage he has wrought.

If that is the case, if indeed Bush walks away from the past eight years a man broken of his hubris and braggadoccio, then this tiny baby step, too little and far too late, should be credited to him. A nip in his hide against the huge hole he has left in the flesh of humanity.

And if it is not the case, then it should be credited to Obama for forcing Bush's hand. We will not know, but history will be the final arbiter of that judgement.

I'm a liberal, and compassionate, and willing to believe the best in a man no matter how badly he's behaved. I'd like to believe Bush has learned his lesson.


(Cross-posted at Simply Left Behind.)

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