Monday, July 16, 2007

Dissatisfaction Guaranteed

On Friday, the President said the following during a session with a handful of conservative journalists:
"Last fall, if I had been part of this polling, if they had called upstairs and said, do you approve of Iraq I would have been on the 66 percent who said, 'No I don't approve.' That's why I made the decision I made. To get in a position where I would be able to say 'Yes, I approve.'"
Over at TPM, Steve Benen comments:
It was an odd thing for Bush to concede, wasn't it? Last fall, the White House was insisting, aggressively, that critics of the war were confused and misguided. To disapprove of the war, the president and his aides said, was to support a dangerous agenda that would necessarily undermine national security.

Except now the president is prepared to argue that he was with the unsatisfied majority. Here's a follow-up: what does that say about Bush's opinion of the one-third of Americans who bought into the White House line and told pollsters that they approved of how the war was going?
Steve's usually very good, but I think he's a little sloppy here. That the administration has insisted unceasingly that "critics of the war were confused and misguided" doesn't obviate the fact that, by last fall, Bush was forced by reality to admit his dissatisfaction about Iraq. It's undeniable that his tone changed markedly. During a press conference on October 25, 2006, he said:
I know many Americans are not satisfied with the situation in Iraq. I'm not satisfied, either. And that is why we're taking new steps to help secure Baghdad, and constantly adjusting our tactics across the country to meet the changing threat.
On December 4, he said: "We're not satisfied with the pace of progress in Iraq." These sorts of statements during the latter part of 2006 were necessary to prepare the public for what came next. Without a change in tone the idea of a "new way forward" wouldn't have made sense, and a surge wouldn't have been justifiable.

Of course, Steve is right that the White House slammed its critics on Iraq last fall. But let's at least admit that Bush made it clear he was indeed "with the unsatisfied majority." It's not as much of a concession as it may seem, since Bush's concurrent attempts to define the acceptable boundaries of everyone else's dissatisfaction bring up far more important (and at this point obvious) questions about his leadership and character.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think Steve's main point was that the conservatives were KILLING the liberals for saying it was a failure...only to now say that they felt a lot like the liberals did.

Will the Republicans be saying the same thing six months from now when we pull out? That they were actually for it but were afraid to speak out.

That's not leadership. That's chicken-shit-ness....something the liberals have been accusing them all along of.

wow! Right twice in one day. Who would have thought it.

7/16/2007 4:47 PM  

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