Baghdad Bush, the sequel

Déjà vu all over again

Alzheimers would make the Bush administration so much more bearable. History is repeating itself in eerie ways. Just as Nixon kept seeing light at the end of the tunnel in Vietnam, Bush keeps announcing a turning point in Iraq. If there had truly been as many turning points as W has proclaimed, we'd be plain dizzy.

As it is, we are pained to know that we have seen it all before. W's dramatic visit to Baghdad was just the opening salvo in a PR campaign designed to convince us that Iraq is progressing inexorably down a path to democracy. A second campaign is underway in Congress to try to paint Democrats as lily-livered cowards who "cut and run" when the going gets tough. Karl Rove, aka "Turd Blossom," given a get-out-of-jail-free-card by the special prosecutor on the CIA leak case, is in full throat, blasting anyone who dares to admit the Iraq war has turned out to be a mistake. There is, after all, an election coming up in a few months, and the American electorate is generally fed up with Bush and Republicans. But the "war president" has played the fear card successfully before, and it looks like the 2004 playbook will be SOP for the 2006 campaign.

Bush visits al-Maliki in Baghdad
2006: Bush visits al-Maliki in Baghdad
Bush served fake turkey to the troops
2003: Bush visits the troops in Baghdad

The last time W visited Baghdad was Thanksgiving 2003. And there were two fakes in the iconic photo from that visit. Then, as now, he snuck into the country in secret. Iraq is supposed to be a fully sovereign nation — you remember all the fanfare about handing over sovereignty, right? — but even the Iraqi prime minister wasn't told Bush was coming. Some sovereign country when the leader doesn't even know POTUS is dropping by for a chat.

Tony Snow and Dan Bartlett in Baghdad
2006: Press Secretary Tony Snow and Advisor Dan Barlett in presidential motorcade in Baghdad
Michael Dukakis in helmet
1988: Michael Dukakis trying to look tough on defense

Way back when Michael Dukakis ran for president, he had himself photographed in a tank and wearing a helmet, thinking this would make him look tough on defense. It made him look ridiculous, and we all remember how that election turned out. But check out Tony Snow and Dan Bartlett on their way to the "Green Zone" where Bush would meet with al-Maliki. In no other presidential motorcade anywhere in the world have helmets and body armor been uniform of the day. They look like Sgt Schultz on Hogan's Heroes. You'd think they would learn. We'll know Iraq is a beacon of democracy in the Middle East when Iraqis — never mind POTUS — can drive downtown from the airport without serious risk of being blown to bits.

al-Rubaie declares al Qaeda in Iraq is at beginning of the end
2006: Muwaffaq al-Rubaie, Iraq's national security adviser, declares Al-Qaeda in Iraq is at the "beginning of end"
Cheney declares insurgency in its last throes
2005: Cheney declares Iraq insurgency is "in its last throes"

A year ago, in June 2005, Vice hit the talk shows to declare that the Iraq insurgency was "in its last throes, if you will." It was blatant poppycock then, and the escalating violence and deaths since then have proved it. It's still blatant poppycock.

Nevertheless, the Bushies and his Iraqi puppets are so eager to convince us that everything is coming up roses in Iraq that the Iraqi national security advisor, Muwaffaq al-Rubaie, declared boldly that with the death of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi the insurgency is "at the beginning of the end." Have the bombings stopped? Has the hush of peace fallen over Baghdad? Dream on!

mission accomplished
2006: Mission Accomplished (Click image to enlarge)
mission accomplished
2003: Mission Accomplished

In May 2003, George W played dress-up in a fighter pilot's jumpsuit to land on an aircraft carrier to stand before a huge banner reading "Mission Accomplished" and tell us that major combat operations were over in Iraq, and the "coalition" had prevailed. W's trip to Baghdad two years later means just as much as that mission accomplished banner.

Ben Sargent
Ben Sargent

We can only hope that this time the American people see this latest gambit for what it is — a stunt, a photo-op, a desperate attempt to fool the public one more time.

injured and killed
2500 dead, Operation Iraqi Freedom
295 dead, Operation Enduring Freedom (Afghanistan)

(As of 16-Jun-2006, DOD casualty report PDF)

It's important not to be fooled because the carnage of Bush's war continues. It's time to face facts and come up with a plan to get us out of the quagmire and begin to restore America's standing in the world.

There's an election coming up, and the best advice is old advice: Vote the rascals out! And start with the presumption that every politician is a rascal, until proven otherwise.