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It Came From Planet Bush

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By Dan Froomkin
Special to washingtonpost.com
Friday, September 14, 2007; 1:12 PM

In the alternate universe that President Bush occupies, he gave a smashing speech last night.

Over there, the people of Iraq need our help to save them from the al Qaeda terrorists who intend to overthrow their brave and united government on the way to attacking America. It's a battle of good versus evil. We have 36 countries fighting alongside us. And the fight is going very well indeed. Ordinary life is returning to Baghdad.

A few more things about Bush's universe: There, the president can make things true simply by solemnly pronouncing them from the Oval Office. He can reach out to his critics just by saying he is doing so. And people believe him.

But over here in the real world, things are different.

Iraq is mostly ruled by armed gangs, not a central government. American troops are dying in the crossfire as the country continues to violently disintegrate along ethnic and sectarian lines. We're in it pretty much alone. There's no end in sight. And the real al Qaeda is regrouping in Pakistan.

President Bush is trying and failing to rally support for a war that the majority of Americans have concluded is not worth fighting. He's not going to change anyone's mind because he's too stubborn to change his own. And in any case, his credibility is shot to hell.

Jaw Droppers

Here's the text of his speech last night, his eighth prime-time address on Iraq.

Bush opened with this astonishing vision: "In Iraq, an ally of the United States is fighting for its survival. Terrorists and extremists who are at war with us around the world are seeking to topple Iraq's government, dominate the region, and attack us here at home."

In reality, the nearly powerless central government is endangered and marginalized not by terrorists but by internal division. And al Qaeda in Iraq, an insurgent group with nominal ties to the real al Qaeda, is in no position to take over the country, not to mention the region. There is also no evidence that they have any interest in attacking us at home.

Said Bush: "One year ago, much of Baghdad was under siege. . . . Today, . . . ordinary life is beginning to return."

To call anything in today's Baghdad even vaguely normal is flatly outrageous.

Said Bush: "The government has not met its own legislative benchmarks -- and in my meetings with Iraqi leaders, I have made it clear that they must."


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