Bush, Harry Truman, and Iraq

Fred Kaplan has been writing great stories over at Slate on Bush and the Iraq War.  The latest takes a look at Bush's amazingly stubborn insistence on sticking with his “strategy” no matter what and despite the clear message from the voters in November.  The highlights…

In short, nothing has changed. The midterm elections?which amounted
to a clear referendum on Bush's policies?never happened. The
Baker-Hamilton report's critique is as dismissible as its prescriptions.

going on here? Does President Bush simply want to avoid admitting that
he's been wrong? Or does he really think he's been?and still is?right?

both. His unwillingness to acknowledge mistakes, however profound or
trivial, is legendary. Yet it's also the case, as a few former
high-ranking officials have recently told me, that he genuinely
believes he's on “the right side of history” when it comes to Iraq, the
war on terror, the freedom agenda?all of which he sees bundled into a
single grand vision (as distinguished, and self-consciously so, from
his father, who was famously and explicitly the opposite of a

In my favorite part, he nicely critiques Bush's simplistic belief that he will simply be vindicated by history, like Harry Truman:

It's a dangerous sign when politically ailing sitting presidents read
biographies of Harry Truman, as Bush has apparently been doing for a
while. It's like failing artists who take solace from the fact that van
Gogh didn't sell many paintings in his lifetime either. Maybe they'll
end up like van Gogh, too, appreciated years later. Then again, maybe
they're just lousy artists
. [emphasis mine]

And so it's distressing to read in the Washington Post
of a meeting last month at which Bush told congressional leaders “that
Truman's approach to dealing with the Cold War was not initially
popular but that he was vindicated by history?the implication being
that Bush would be vindicated about Iraq as well.”

But these comparisons are far from flattering. Where are Bush's
institutions and alliances?his Marshall Plan or NATO? What (besides the
discredited, and somewhat retracted, one about pre-emption) are his
doctrines? Truman was unpopular in his day because many people didn't
like the direction his Cold War strategy was taking them. Bush is
unpopular because, it becomes clearer by the day, he doesn't seem to have a strategy.

In short, unlike Truman, Bush seems very unlikely to be vindicated by history.  I remain firm in my belief that decades from now political scientists and historians will still be studying Bush as a classic example of a failed and disastrous presidency. 

Stealing from the collection basket

On the front page of today's N&O is a story about an undercover police operation to catch an usher stealing money from the collection basket at my very own church

Cary police launched three rounds of churchly undercover work to catch
a 75-year-old usher they suspected of palming collection-basket cash at
St. Michael the Archangel Catholic Church.

They struck out during two holiday stings aimed at James MacCaline, a long-time usher known to parishioners as “Jimmy Mac.”

at Sunday Mass on New Year's Eve morning, five officers sprinkled
through the congregation, backed by 10 hidden cameras, spotted
MacCaline pocketing offering money, Cary police Capt. Dave Wulff said
Wednesday. He said they found a $20 bill in his pocket that police
planted after recording its serial numbers.

All this work, and just for a “misdemeanor larceny” charge.  I was thinking, how often do policy invest so much time and manpower on a misdemeanor, but then again, you know they had to be thinking how cool it would be to catch a church usher stealing from the basket.  They had a picture of they guy in the paper and I did not recognize him, leading me to believe my contributions at the 8:45am Mass have been safe :-). 

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