Saving The Presidency From The President

Bush at WarWilliam Kristol continues to peddle his delusion today in the Washington Post. Kristol thinks that George W Bush will be remembered as a successful president. He cites "progress" in Iraq:

The fact is that military progress on the ground in Iraq in the past few months has been greater than even surge proponents like me expected, and political progress is beginning to follow.

I have to question whether Mr. Kristol’s definition of "progress" is the same as mine, or whether his definition of "progress" is in the national interest. However, whatever he is selling, its clear that George W Bush is buying. And to the detriment of the country and the presidency.

While the Democrats in Congress try once again to put muscle behind their words, Republican senators, most notably Richard Lugar of Indiana, are trying to lead the President toward a kinder gentler withdrawal by asking him to present a new strategy for Iraq in October. Neither strategy will work.

While it has been clear to many citizens from the very beginning, the Iraq Study Group report last December changed the conversation in Washington from how to win in Iraq to how best to salvage America from George W Bush’s blunder. George W Bush responded to the report like a petulant school boy – he did exactly the opposite of what was prudent and what was recommended. Instead of considering what was in the best interest of the country, he listened to the delusions of Fred Kagan and the amoral preachings of the likes of William Kristol.

Like his Secretary of Homeland Security, George W Bush sides with his gut over facts or evidence. In his defiant press conference earlier in the week in response to his own administration’s report of massive failure in Iraq, Mr. Bush laid to rest any notion that he was connected with reality:

I know some in Washington would like us to start leaving Iraq now. To begin withdrawing before our commanders tell us we are ready would be dangerous for Iraq, for the region, and for the United States. It would mean surrendering the future of Iraq to al Qaeda. It would mean that we’d be risking mass killings on a horrific scale. It would mean we’d allow the terrorists to establish a safe haven in Iraq to replace the one they lost in Afghanistan. It would mean increasing the probability that American troops would have to return at some later date to confront an enemy that is even more dangerous.

This kind of thinking leaves little room for nuance, as the Republicans in the Senate are hoping for. Still I have much sympathy for Senator Lugar’s approach. The alternative, the Democratic approach of cutting off funding for the troops, will undoubtebly lead to a constitutional showdown between the president’s article II commander-in-chief powers and the Congress’s Article I war making and funding powers. There is very little doubt in my mind that in this constitutional crisis the presidency will be the loser. The result of George W Bush’s intransigence and his assertion of vast executive authority will ironically be a weakened presidency. Under a different president, faced with such an outcome, the president would avoid this game of chicken for the sake of the country and the office he holds. A more enlightened president would take the escape hatch provided by Senator Lugar and the Iraq Study Group. But not this president.

So, it seems to me that we have really two options. We can let George W Bush run out the clock of his presidency by remaining in Iraq and continuing this fiasco, or we – through our elected representatives in Congress – can bring this war to an end by exercise of constitutional authority over the executive’s actions.

Letting this president run out the clock means the deaths of over a thousand more American soldiers and many more Iraqis, a further destabilization of the region, a further increase in hatred toward America – a hatred that will inevitably manifest itself in attacks against the homeland, and lasting damage to the balance of power in government. Letting this president run out the clock without challenge from the other co-equal branches of government means setting a precedent for authoritarian usurpation of executive power. America will lose, not only the Iraq war, but its own identity and way of life. Osama bin Laden will no doubt approve.

Bringing this war to an end by Congressional action will cause damage to the institution of the presidency by tipping the constitutional balance and injecting the Congress into the exercise of foreign policy. This institutional damage may be avoided by declaring this presidency, the presidency of George W Bush, as an aberration. It should be argued that Mr. Bush has himself damaged the presidency and the national interest by his orchestration and execution of this war -a high crime and misdemeanor. The conversation should not only be about how we get out of this war, but must also include how we got into this war. The former should be the basis for Congressional action to end this war, the latter should be the basis for the Congressional exercise of its Article I powers to impeach and remove the president from office. To balance Congressional action to defund this war, impeachment proceedings must begin. Impeachment will confirm that Congressional intervention was necessary to reign in this president and not the presidency.

It is a sad day in America when we must talk about the impeachment of a president. But the presidency and the nation is far more important than the political legacy of George W Bush. So, while William Kristol and his ilk spin to salvage Mr. Bush’s legacy, we the citizens through our elected representatives must act to salvage the constitutional office of the presidency from this president. In doing so, we will have ended a senseless war and the unnecessary and avoidable deaths of thousands.

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3 Responses to Saving The Presidency From The President

  1. Alfredo says:

    As David Corn, Washington editor of The Nation, noted a couple of days after Kristol’s (delusional) op-ed piece, it is rather extraordinary that the mainstream media continue to yield their (arguably) highly regarded platforms to people who, like Kristol, have been so thoroughly and consistenly wrong about Iraq.

    For the amnesiac amongst us, Corn did a great job reviewing Kristol’s (pathetic) track record as “prognosticator” and rightfully observes:

    [a]fter a performance like this…Kristol…ought to have his pundit’s license yanked.

  2. Mash says:

    Alfredo, sorry for the light posting lately. I have also focused a lot of my posts on Bangladesh lately due to the extraordinary events there. I’ll attempt to be more regular in the near future.

    I am glad David Corn published his rebuttal in the Post. It is always worth reminding people of Bill Kristol’s association with Dan Quayle – he doesn’t exactly have a track record of success…ever! :d

  3. Alfredo says:

    I both appreciate and value highly your posts on these matters and those sorrounding Bangladesh. The recent events there have been extraordinary indeed.

    At the same time, I cannot but help think of how the relative inaction (inability, perhaps?) of our government in the face of said events further underscores the terrible mistake that is Bush’s Iraqi experiment.

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