Tuesday, October 24, 2006

The desperate flight from "stay the course"

Josh Marshall has a great bit on Bush's desperate attempt to retreat from "stay the course":
There's a lesson hear amid the cackling though, one which may be grimly echoed in our own departure if the country doesn't force the president's hand and prevent his ego from being the guiding force in our policy. Strategic retreats are often the choice of wise leaders, shrewd generals. Having the clarity of vision to see the difference between the possible and the desirable can often allow you to change course early and avoid a debacle later. Here you see the White House which has banged away at 'stay the course' and 'don't question the policy' for like two years now and suddenly at the crunch point they're bailing out. Or trying to bail out -- but now they really can't. The White House political czars look like nothing so much as those panicked embassy workers and refugees on the compound rooftop clamoring to get one of the last seats on those final helicopters out of Saigon. Same amount of planning, about as much dignity.

Like I wrote earlier today, the president has run this war like a confidence game. And as you would expect, that's led to a bubble. The support is tough but brittle. Any move off the absolutes, with us or against us, stay the course vs. cut and run, and the whole think starts to crack. Once the White House comes out for pragmatism and flexibility, that leaves them perilously close to embracing reality itself. And that, of course, is like the kryptonite of Bush's superherodom. After that, the deluge.