Thursday, April 12, 2007

The President Has This Bag Marked “Iraq” and Desperately Wants Someone to Hold It

A scam tad older than America itself,  one gives somebody a bag to hold, the purpose being to provide a distraction while slipping away. It was artfully arranged to let others hang about, taking blame for something that had gone wrong.


Bushwave Bush Seeks Overseer For Iraq, Afghanistan, so say Peter Baker and Thomas E. Ricks, Washington Post writers who report to us (with perfectly straight faces) that

The White House wants to appoint a high-powered czar to oversee the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan with authority to issue directions to the Pentagon, the State Department and other agencies, but it has had trouble finding anyone able and willing to take the job, according to people close to the situation.

What a great idea. Another czar to pin his Medal of Freedom upon, someone to join the whole string of failed czars from this and administrations past;

  • inflation czars
  • cancer czars
  • drug czars
  • intelligence czars
  • education czars.

Everything but cigar czars and Bill Clinton might have benefited from one of those. There will be no cigar for this particular presidential slot and, it seems, no takers either. There are several angles from which to view George’s latest greatest way out of his personal quagmire and they have some (if not much) historic provenance.

Snipehunt The SNIPE-HUNT Gambit. Bush is bound to know this one, it’s such a camping-buddy scenario, in which inexperienced campers are whispered-to about the legendary snipe, as well as made participants in catching it. Running around the woods carrying a bag and making strange noises is usually part of the deal. Then, the unsuspecting "snipe hunter" is secretly abandoned, the idea being to see how long will it take for him to notice he’s been made a fool of. Usually, it’s part of the setup to tell the victim, "we need to spread out," and then go home.

Is that a game just made for government? The problem here is laughingly evident. Everyone within the White House has already been secretly abandoned and the last remaining survivors of this ‘fantasy of the snipe’ are George Bush and Dick Cheney.

Snipe Hunts don’t work when the perpetrators don’t realize it’s a hoax. It’s supposed to be the other way around.

Holdingthebag The HOLDING THE BAG Gambit. No doubt a precursor to snipe hunts, this tried and true standby dates back to middle eighteenth century Britain. A scam tad older than America itself,  one gives somebody a bag to hold, the purpose being to provide a distraction while slipping away. It was artfully arranged to let others hang about, taking blame for something that had gone wrong.

Let us suppose the law is breathing down one’s neck, having swindled the country into a false war for false purposes under false evidence. Stuff happens.

In such a circumstance (if it were the mid 18th century) one would find someone (either naive or expendable) to hold the evidence. Appropriate measures might then be taken for the principals to take a hike. A variation is ‘holding the baby,’ in which case the prospective mother is left at church while daddy’s train chuffs off into the night.

Thus far, three of the military’s brightest and best have declined (from the comfort of their retirement) to either hunt with or hold the bag for this administration. There was once another reason not to hunt with Dick Cheney, to which this runs a close second. These guys don’t accumulate four stars on the shoulder-boards by failing to recognize an encirclement when presented.

Interestingly, this job description, promising authority to issue directions to the Pentagon, the State Department and other agencies is almost precisely the same as that by which a President of the United States is empowered.

Czarnicholas Is there something we missed here? Has the ship of state run aground? Are we leaderless constitutionally and in need of a Czar? Where are the Republicans taking us, to 19th century Russia with all this talk of ‘homeland’ and ‘czars?’

"The very fundamental issue is, they don't know where the hell they're going," said retired Marine Gen. John J. "Jack" Sheehan, a former top NATO commander who was among those rejecting the job. Sheehan said he believes that Vice President Cheney and his hawkish allies remain more powerful within the administration than pragmatists looking for a way out of Iraq. "So rather than go over there, develop an ulcer and eventually leave, I said, 'No, thanks.' "

Cheneymeetpress And therein lies not the only rub, but the main one. This Bag the president would have someone hold in his name, contains Dick Cheney. The same Dick Cheney who argues unendingly and in the face of mountainous evidence to the contrary, that we have done and are doing the right thing in Iraq and Afghanistan.

To fill such a role, the White House is searching for someone with enough stature and confidence to deal directly with heavyweight administration figures such as Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates.

The name left off that list says more than those included and takes us back to the rub. Who will (or can) deal with Cheney? The president has the stature, but has shown himself insufficiently confident to sit Rice, Gates, Cheney, Hadley, Mueller and Gonzales down in a single room around a single table and give them marching orders.

Ovaloffice It would be an elegant shift from under the load history promises this president, if he were to find the czar he seeks.

He might then ship his overbearing vice president into a permanently undisclosed location and get the hell out of Dodge, giving his last twenty months in office a chance at redemption. Having praised fired general after fired general, Bush could finally establish a man above those generals and above the state department as well, who would be his man instead of his daddy’s. A man he could follow out of Iraq, flags flying, bands playing.

The flaw is that he is supposed to be that man. George Walker Bush is looking to hire the man we elected him to be. How ironic is that?

Whoever said we have seen the end of irony, spoke prematurely.

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