Contrition, Crawford Style


It was a moment of such gravitas that someone surely forgot to cue the angels. But chorus or no, last week, our commander in chief fessed up to a few miscalculations while building his masterpiece in Iraq.

Standing in front of the nation and beside what’s left of Tony Bair, Bush admitted that he’s just too damn manly. Bush says it was the “tough talk,” that stands out among mistakes. You know, the “bring it on,” “wanted dead or alive” crap.

The President let his inner cowboy out and he’s sorry for sending the “wrong signals.” Signals are important to this caballero. There’s no “Brokeback” in his Baghdad policy.

Any other screw-ups Mr. President? Like, no WMD, no 9-11 connections, no plan for the peace?

No siree. The only problem around here is Dubya’s id. Oh, and that Abu Ghraib thing, “we’ve been paying for that for a long time.”

Predictably, the fossilized media went for the feint and screamed “Bush admits mistakes.” With analysis every bit as shallow as Bush’s introspection, they zeroed in on the heat and ignored the fire. Yes, our President is too macho…

The idea that Bush’s worst mistake regarding Iraq was redneck-sounding rhetoric is so silly we shall put it to rest immediately. However, the rest of what he had to say on the faux pas front–that afterthought about Abu Ghraib–are words that the oblivious Bush should study closely.

“The biggest mistake that’s happened so far, at least from our country’s involvement in Iraq is Abu Ghraib, we’ve been paying for that for a long time,” he said.

One can reasonably assume that Bush views the prison scandal through the prism of public relations. It’s a calculus that blames the scandal on the leak, not the facts of the case. Abu Ghraib is a big deal only because the untrained National Guard Neanderthals in charge of the prisons decided to photograph their debauchery.

You’ll notice Bush didn’t mention putting Neanderthals in charge of the prisons as one of his big mistakes. That’s not only exasperating, it shows that Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld are divorced from reality.

Bush accepts the blame for his chest-thumping verbiage. But he won’t own up to setting the conditions in which our overextended and overstressed troops have become the focus of the hatred of disparate Iraqi factions that have battled among themselves for centuries.

Bush acknowledges that Abu Ghraib is a public relations disaster but sees himself as blameless. He tells us “the people who committed those acts were brought to justice. They’ve been given a fair trial and tried and convicted.” It had nothing to do with my Administration’s abject failure to plan for the peace.

On this Memorial Day, it is greatly disheartening to know that our military is about to suffer another colossal blow under Bush’s reign. It is the story of what took place in an Iraqi town called Haditha last November. And it will likely eclipse Abu Ghraib as a public relations and moral disaster.

A report is due shortly that will show that our troops went on a killing spree in Haditha after a roadside bomb killed one of their own. It is widely rumored that there exists a picture of a bullet-riddled Iraqi mother and her children, in a death pose that resembles the Islamic posture for prayer. It will likely become public along with photos of some of the other 24 unarmed civilians that were killed in cold blood. Pentagon and congressional leaders have all but confirmed this.

The impact this story has throughout the region remains to be seen. One can only imagine what it will do to the military’s sagging morale. It is quite possible that some Marines will face the death penalty as the case is prosecuted.

It is heartbreaking that on this Memorial Day we contemplate the reality that we’ll probably never figure a way out of Iraq that does not besmirch America’s standing and dispirit us all. And as this great nation suffers, we can be sure our delusional leader will prop us up with his tired sound bites and deceptive blather. It’s a mess of his making, but it’s ours to clean up.

Two days ago Bush gave the commencement address at the United States Military Academy and told us that “the war began on my watch–but it’s going to end on your watch.”

Finally, the truth.

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