The president could make the case that Americans are just wrong about the war. He could tell the nation, “Look, I know most of you disagree with my judgment, but I’ve decided that my policy is the only way to go. Americans showed they prefer a change when the voted for Democrats last November, but I’m still the president. As long as I’m in office, I’m not going to change course. Period.”
That tack would at least be consistent. He’s stubborn and obstinate. He hears the public, but has decided to disregard their demands. He sees the political landscape, but will buck the prevailing winds, no matter the consequences.
Except Bush is actually saying the opposite. Today, he suggested that the midterm elections, in which his party unexpectedly lost control of both chambers, offered a mandate for his war policy.
“Last November, the American people said they were frustrated and wanted a change in our strategy in Iraq. I listened. Today, General David Petraeus is carrying out a strategy that is dramatically different from our previous course. The American people did not vote for failure, and that is precisely what the Democratic leadership’s bill would guarantee.”
This is unusually bizarre, even for Bush. As Greg Sargent summarized, “The American people voted in 2006 for a change of course in Iraq. Bush gave them a change of course in the form of a ’surge.’ This shows, therefore, that he listened to the American people and gave them the change they wanted.”
Anyone buying this?