According to Bob Woodward, during a conversation about Iraq, George Bush once told Republican leaders, "I will not withdraw even if Laura and Barney are the only ones supporting me."
Well, it now looks like that's what we've got. The President is down to Laura and Barney.
First, the American electorate told him to start withdrawing from Iraq on November 7th. The Democrats won 36 Congressional seats formerly held by Republicans and lost none. That's a 36-0 blowout. How much clearer did the American people have to be?
Then the Iraq Study Group said we need to start withdrawing troops and get almost all of our combat units out of Iraq by the beginning of 2008. The ISG was led by James Baker. Is it possible to be any more Republican than James A. Baker III? The group was filled with Republican stalwarts, like Senator Alan Simpson and Ed Meese. They all agreed. Start withdrawing from Iraq.
Then came the generals. They also said in unison that they do not think putting more troops into Iraq was the answer. They agreed with everyone else that what we need is a political solution, not a military solution. They also said that adding more troops wouldn't help you militarily anyway.
According to an article in the Washington Post last month, the Joint Chiefs of Staff unanimously disagreed with the idea of adding more troops. General Casey said last week, "It's always been my view that a heavy and sustained American military presence was not going to solve the problems in Iraq over the long term."
General Abizaid, head of Central Command, told the Senate Armed Services Committee:
"I met with every divisional commander, General Casey, the corps commander, General Dempsey, we all talked together. And I said, in your professional opinion, if we were to bring in more American Troops now, does it add considerably to our ability to achieve success in Iraq? And they all said no. And the reason is because we want the Iraqis to do more. It is easy for the Iraqis to rely upon to us do this work. I believe that more American forces prevent the Iraqis from doing more, from taking more responsibility for their own future."
Commandant of the Marine Corps, General James T. Conway chipped in, "We do not believe that just adding numbers for the sake of adding numbers--just thickening the mix--is necessarily a good way to go."
How much clearer did they all have to be?
This is on top of all of the former generals, like Colin Powell and Wesley Clark, almost all of the former diplomats, politicians and Middle East experts. Even Oliver North said, "Sending more US combat troops is simply sending more targets."
The Washington Post is reporting today that there appears to be almost no one in the nation's capitol who agrees with this escalation except a couple of right-wing zealots who always been gung-ho about the war:
"In going for more troops, Bush is picking an option that seems to have little favor beyond the White House and a handful of hawks on Capitol Hill and in think tanks who have been promoting the idea almost since the time of the invasion."
Then they add that the Joint Chiefs of Staff disagree with the new plan because it does not address many of the existing problems in Iraq and even adds some more to the mix:
"The Joint Chiefs were also worried that sending more troops would set up the U.S. military for an even bigger failure -- with no backup options. They were concerned that the Iraqis would not deliver the troops to handle their own security efforts, as had happened in the past. They were particularly alarmed about the prospect of U.S. troops fighting in a political vacuum if the administration did not complement the military plan with political and economic changes, according to people familiar with their views.
Pentagon officials cautioned that a modest troop increase could lead to more attacks by al-Qaeda, provide more targets for Sunni insurgents and fuel the jihadist appeal for more foreign fighters to flock to Iraq to attack U.S. troops."
How much clearer did they have to be?
Cue Laura and Barney. A little while ago there was even a rumor that Barney ran away. You would think that Bush might reconsider then since he was just down to Laura - and she hasn't really spoken publicly about her views on the escalation idea, either. But Bush is undeterred. He's never one to let a bad idea go without a fight.
To be fair, it is possible that Laura and Barney were presidential nicknames for John McCain and Joe Lieberman. If that's true, then yes, Bush still has Laura and Barney on his side.
There's almost no one left in the country who thinks this approach of adding another 20,000 troops is going to work. But George Bush, as always, is uninterested in the views of the reality-based community. Like an out of control gambler, he thinks if he just doubles down one more time, he can make it all back. Or like an out of control alcoholic, he thinks -- just one more drink.
Maybe the answer here is the same as when Bush stopped drinking. Laura was the only one left in his corner after he drove everyone else away with his ridiculous antics and excessive habits. She threatened to leave him unless he turned it around immediately. Laura would do the world an enormous favor if she could do it one more time. Get him to quit cold turkey again - no more troops, no more escalations, no more wars.