Reactionary Republicans view George W. Bush as someone who's been divinely ordained to lead the world to embrace democracy and freedom. He fits neatly into their image of the strong father figure who's always right and who always has his children's best interests at heart. I'm guessing their their views were not swayed last night (though a peek at Red State shows I may be wrong).
The rest of us know: Most fathers are good, strong people, but there are some who never should have become parents. Were it not for the actions of the Rehnquist Court, we'd have never been saddled with this delusional man with serious "daddy" issues. That said, George W. Bush is, as Tim Russert said last night, "the only commander in chief we have." I wish, even knowing all I do about Bush after six long years, that I could believe him. Like a child entranced with Peter Pan and Tinkerbell, I sometimes wish that if we all clapped loud and long enough, he'd make it all better.
But the adult in me knows this is not going to happen. We screwed up Iraq long ago: when we went to war on false pretenses, when we opted for a full-on invasion instead of surgical ops to remove Saddam, when we created a chaotic breeding ground for terror when none existed, when we trashed what was left of Iraq's infrastructure, when we disbanded the Iraqi army, when we covered up the shame of Abu Ghraib, and the list goes on. We broke it the day we bought it, the day that Congress fell for this administration's lies. By escalating (and widening) our presence now, we will be digging ourselves - and the Iraqi people - into an ever-deeper hole, prolonging the time when a political solution can be sought and passions in the Middle East can cool.
Here's a football metaphor some of us may appreciate. Sometimes a gadget play works - when it's been practiced and perfected, when the odds favor its success, and when using it will bring the game to a quick and decisive end. But in Iraq, Bush is proposing a desperate toss into the end zone. Instead of being a true "way forward," it's a half-assed attempt to bring order to chaos so at least Bush, John McCain, and Joe Lieberman can say, "Well, we tried" when we belatedly start pulling troops out a year from now.
The Congress is now controlled by adults. It's up to the Democrats - joined by what seems to be a growing cadre of rational Republicans - to say no to the been-there-done-that-and-it-didn't-work escalation Bush proposed last night. It's up to Congress to find a political path to help Iraqis gain control of their country. It's up to Congress to work with the international community to ensure safe passage for Iraqis who want to leave their country and settle - at least for a time - somewhere else. It's time to start ending our involvement in Iraq - not send 21,500 more Americans onto an escalator of crossfire, incompetence, and centuries-old sectarian strife that we cannot hope to solve.