Through the Looking Glass Darkly

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by Ed Naha

This past Saturday, 25 American troops died in Iraq. It was the third worst day in the history of the so-called war. The unofficial death toll is now at 3,054. Last week, in a televised interview, President Bush referred to Iraq as a “cracked egg.” The same week, Iraq’s Prime Minister al-Maliki accused both Bush and Condoleezza Rice of making comments that aided terrorists.

Welcome to reality 2007! If Timothy Leary were still alive, he’d find dropping acid a redundancy.

Appearing with Jim Lehrer on PBS’s “NewsHour,” Bush gave an interview that, if nothing else, made his “60 Minutes” appearance seem vaguely sane. When told that 35 Iraqis were killed on the day of the sit-down, Bush theorized: “Look, death is terrible.”

Ya’ think?

At one point during the interview, Lehrer compared the results of the American Iraqi invasion as a “broken egg,” with the U.S. now saying “Okay, Iraqis, it’s your problem. You put the egg back together, and if you don’t do it quickly and you don’t do it well, then we’ll get the hell out.”

This comparison brought out an amazing example of statesman-like eloquence from Bush. “Yeah, you know, that’s an interesting question. I don’t quite view it as the broken egg. I view it as the cracked egg…”

“Cracked egg?” Lehrer replied, willing his head not to explode.

Bush felt the suicidal impulse to go on. “– that - where we still have a chance to move beyond the broken egg. And I thought long and hard about the decision, Jim. Obviously it’s a big decision for this theater in the war on terror, and you know, if I didn’t believe we could keep the egg from fully cracking, I wouldn’t ask 21,000 kids - additional kids to go into Iraq to reinforce those troops that are there.”

Uh, when he starts talking about “hash browns” on the Iraqi griddle, it’s time to call it a day. He also might want to consider reading “Humpty Dumpty” when he’s finally done with “My Pet Goat.”

Bush, referring to Saddam Hussein’s audience participation hanging as well as two subsequent botch-jobs, ruminated: “You know, I was pleased with the trials they got; I was disappointed and felt like they fumbled the - particularly the Saddam Hussein - execution. It reinforced doubts in people’s minds that the Maliki government and the unity government of Iraq is a serious government, and - which makes it harder for me to make the case to the American people that this is a government that does want to unify the country and move forward.”

Fortunately, at this point, Bush resisted the urge to put on The Mad Hatter’s top hat and sing “A very merry un-birthday to you” to Lehrer.

When asked if the hangings produced a bad message about the Iraqi government, Bush said: “Well, the message is that it’s a confusing message. It basically says to people, look, you conducted a trial and gave Saddam justice that he didn’t give to others. But then, when it came to execute him, it looked like it was kind of a revenge killing. And it sent a mixed signal to the American people and the people around the world. And it just goes to show that this is a government that has still got some maturation to do.”

The words “maturation” and “Bush” seem jarring when read together, don’t they?

For some reason, I’m reminded, at this juncture, of an old Tennessee Ernie Ford joke. When a bumpkin is confronted by the math lesson of “Pi R Squared,” he responds: “Y’er wrong. Pie are round. Cornbread are square.”

Which brings us back to Dubya.

Showing a knack for taking the most complex of situations and whittling them down to toothpick status, Bush responded to a Lehrer remark stating that only military families are actually experiencing any sacrifice in this alleged war, with a blithe: “Well, you know, I think a lot of people are in this fight. I mean, they sacrifice peace of mind when they see the terrible images of violence on TV every night. We got a fantastic economy here in the United States. But yet when you think about the psychology of the country, it is somewhat down because of this war.”

Bush’s remarkable ability of ignoring the truth and going into “total disconnect” mode reminds me of his mother’s comment at the outset of the illegal invasion when, on national television, she remarked: “But why should we hear about body bags, and deaths, and how many — It’s not relevant. So, why should I waste my beautiful mind on something like that?”

Once Dubya was done portraying the plight of the TV-tortured American populace, he grinded gears and returned to an area he’s more comfortable with: danged dollurs ‘n’ scents.

“Now, here in Washington when I say, ‘What do you mean by that?’ (people not sacrificing enough) they say, ‘Well, why don’t you raise their taxes; that’ll cause there to be a sacrifice.’ I strongly oppose that. If that’s the kind of sacrifice people are talking about, I’m not for it because raising taxes will hurt this growing economy. And one thing we want during this war on terror is for people to feel like their life’s moving on, that they’re able to make a living and send their kids to college and put more money on the table.”

This particular example of “straw man cynicism” produced the following exchange on “Countdown” between host Keith Olberman and guest Jonathan Alter, Senior Editor of “Newsweek.”

OLBERMANN: “Well, let‘s start with Mr. Bush on sacrifice. And one is almost speechless at the president‘s bungle of disconnects sometime. But to equate deaths, just the 3,000-plus American deaths, to a loss of peace of mind at home, is this the new low-end measure of his tone-deafness?”

ALTER: “It‘s pretty low, I mean, for him to claim that that‘s some kind of sacrifice.

“Just to use a little historical context here, Keith, President Bush is the first president in American history to ever cut taxes in wartime. The whole idea of raising an army, in every other war we‘ve had, big and small, Spanish-American, doesn‘t matter what war you‘re talking about, raising an army requires raising taxes.

“Otherwise, you‘re having your children and your grandchildren pay for your war, instead of doing it contemporaneously.

“And when he says, well, raising taxes would shut down economy, it‘s important to remember that the last time taxes were raised in the 1990s, the country, in the immediate aftermath, instead of the economy going down, we actually started the largest and most sustained boom in American history. So this idea has been slam-dunked by recent history.

“So he was talking nonsense there about sacrifice. And then he engaged in doublespeak, Orwellian doublespeak, when he said that General Casey supported this (surge) policy, and asked for more troops. In fact, General Casey said the exact opposite of that, Keith, on many occasions. He was the one who has said that we need to turn over responsibility to the Iraqis, otherwise things will just get worse.”

Oddly enough, the Pentagon’s piñata du jour, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has been saying that for months, reiterating this week, that had American forces reduced their presence in Iraq months ago, the amount of violence occurring now, in his opinion, would never have reached such cataclysmic proportions.

“The situation would be much better if the United States had immediately sent our security forces more adequate weapons and equipment. If they had committed themselves more and with greater speed, we would have had a lot fewer deaths among Iraqi civilians and American soldiers,” al-Maliki told a group of mostly European journalists in a series of interviews.

The Iraqi government has long complained that the US has not provided it with proper equipment to deal with Shia militias and Sunni insurgents. But US officials - who doubt the impartiality of the Maliki government - have worried that such material would end up in the hands of the militias.

Yet, this is our “go to” guy in terms of Bush’s new “Surgin’ USA” plan.

Al-Maliki was also not really pleased by Bush’s remarks about the fledgling Iraqi government nor the ever-diplomatic Condi Rice’s quip (while on yet another Magical Misery Tour of the Middle East) that Iraq’s government was living on “borrowed time.”

Maliki said: “I would like to correct President Bush that Saddam … was not subjected to any act of revenge, any physical attack, but it was a judicial process that ended with him executed … according to Iraqi law.”

“It seems that Bush has given in to domestic pressures. Perhaps he has lost control of the situation.”

“Secretary Rice is expressing her own point of view if she thinks that the government is on borrowed time, whether it is borrowed time for the Iraqi government or American administration. I don’t think we are on borrowed time,” he said.

“I would like to advise Condoleezza Rice to avoid declarations that could help only the terrorists,” he told an Italian newspaper.

“I wish that we could receive strong messages of support from the U.S. so we don’t give some boost to the terrorists and make them feel that they might have achieved success.”

“I believe that such statements give morale boosts to the terrorists and push them towards making an extra effort and making them believe that they have defeated the American administration, but I can tell you that they haven’t defeated the Iraqi government.”

Ow! Why, he’s thinking about the Republican Administration as BushCo. does…Democrats!

Oh, the horror! The horror!

The Bush White House responded by doing what it does best: tap dance like Sammy Davis Junior on speed.

“I dispute the characterization that he (al-Maliki) was very critical of the president,” White House spokesman Tony Snow said. Snow stopped short of saying the al-Maliki was talking about Bill Clinton.


Giving his boss a little wiggle room and distancing Bush from Rice, Snow also stated: “You certainly haven’t heard statements like that from this podium, nor have you heard them from the president.”

Rice, in London, immediately dove into her “Holy Shiite!” mode.

“I am sorry if he took offense. I did not mean any offense,” she said, putting the episode down to translation problems. (Note: She obviously made the comment in the Klingon language, her second tongue.)

“What was intended to be said there is, look there is a sense of urgency there and he understands the urgency,” Rice said, stopping her tap dance number and beginning to spin plates, instead.

Gee, it’s nice that the Prime Minister of an illegally-occupied land wherein 34,000 citizens were massacred in 2006 alone gets a White House “Atta boy” for being aware of his situation.


So, as 68% of Americans oppose the surge, per “Newsweek.”

And Bush tries to figure out how many deaths it takes to make an omelet.

Let’s hearken back to a comment from his Mom, Barbara Bush. “War is not nice,” she once pronounced.

Unfortunately, her short-order cook-in-chief never got the message.

How are those eggs, coming?

Uh, I think the bacon’s burning. No way to save it. Let’s surge forward to the hash browns!

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