Tuesday, April 20, 2004

Champagne Supernova

I've said this before, but the way Bush and Co. handled the "victory" phase of this war (from about mid-April to mid-May of last year) was appalling. There is a near compulsion from this administration to gloat on a previously unimaginable level, and Bob Woodward's new book "Plan Of Attack" brings yet another example.

Woodward describes Cheney's favorable reaction to a column by former Reagan official Ken Adelman.

On April 10, 2003, Ken Adelman, a Reagan administration official and supporter of the Iraq war, published an op-ed article in The Washington Post headlined, " 'Cakewalk' Revisited," more or less gloating over what appeared to be the quick victory there, and reminding readers that 14 months earlier he had written that war would be a "cakewalk." He chastised those who had predicted disaster. "Taking first prize among the many frightful forecasters" was Brent Scowcroft, who served as national security adviser in the first Bush administration. Adelman wrote that his own confidence came from having worked for Donald H. Rumsfeld three times and "from knowing Dick Cheney and Paul Wolfowitz for so many years."

Vice President Cheney phoned Adelman, who was in Paris with his wife, Carol. What a clever column, the vice president said. You really demolished them.

In hindsight, Adelman's ignorance is remarkable. However, equably remarkable is the April 13 dinner that Woodward goes on to describe, hosted by Cheney to "celebrate" the victory in Iraq. Keep in mind that by the time dinner guest Ken Adelman makes this point, over 110 US soldiers have died in the war.

The war has been awesome, Adelman said. "So I just want to make a toast, without getting too cheesy. To the president of the United States."

They all raised their glasses. Hear! Hear!

That Cheney allowed Woodward to be present for this sort of event shows his complete lack of touch with normal society. A group of powerful Republicans, sharing a champagne toast to celebrate a war being fought as they enjoy fine dining, reinforces most every negative stereotype of conservatives.

Yet this is hardly the first example of such chest-thumping on the part of the Bush administration. Take the Mission Accomplished publicity stunt, for example. Marking the end of major combat operations, during which approximately 150 American soldiers lost their lives, it was staged with the kind of somber reflection usually displayed at high school pep rallies. Yet it energized the Republican base, at least in part, because it angered liberals. One of the qualities conservatives like about Bush is that he has an open contempt for liberal sensibilities.

Chris Matthews, who in the past compared Bush to Winston Churchill, has publicly admitted as much. This from the April 13 transcript of Hardball.

CHRIS MATTHEWS: I like him when he [Bush] you know when I like him best? When he gives the answer nobody likes, like, what did you do wrong? I'm not prepared to say that right now.


MATTHEWS: And my greatest philosopher is Jesus Christ. I like when he says the stuff that the liberals don't like.

BUCHANAN: That was terrific, yes.

The message is clear: one of Bush's greatest strengths is the extent to which his message and policies tweak liberals. Some conservatives pundits admire it so much, they aren't bothered when minor issues like the loss of human life interfere with this political gamesmanship.

Take this remarkable exchange on Iraq from last May, (Hannity and Colmes 05.08.2003) between Dennis Miller and Alan Colmes. Miller (whose CNBC talk show is now billed as "half as funny as Gallagher, with none of the intelligence) admits he finds the liberal frustration toward lack of WMD in Iraq, "fun."

MILLER: As far as weapons of mass destruction go, to be honest, Alan, I was never sure they had them. That was not a big ticket for me. We said that to get the war machine out of port. But to be quite honest with you, I was hoping they didn't have them because I assume if they had them they would use them and we'd have a lot more dead, young, brave American boys than 125.

So to be honest, I kind of hope they don't find them. Because guess what? The war's over now. You know Mr. Sherman and Peabody aren't getting in way back in the machine and going back for a do-over here. This one is in the books, my friends. It's over.

And you know something? If it makes guys cranky like you that we didn't find them, well, that's kind of fun, too.

Spot on, Dennis. Nevermind the sacrifice on the part of our military for a non-existent threat, it's all pickles and giggles when you're having "fun" slamming the libs!