A glimpse into the future:
On Friday, Bush had a meeting with (who else?) conservative journalists and it was reported
in the National Review. Some key excerpts: (emp add)
Forget the leaks and the speculation, President George W. Bush is not looking for a way out of the surge and the Iraq war. In a session with about ten conservative journalists Friday afternoon, a confident and determined president made it clear that he is going to see the surge through, and will rely on General David Petraeus’s advice on how to proceed come September, regardless of the political climate in Washington.
He’s not going to abandon the surge, despite all the talk of his administration being willing to move to the Iraq Study Group model of the Iraq war. He views “this period as fundamental for deciding whether or not this nation is going to be secure throughout a lot of the 21st century."
"The ideal world," he adds, "is that there would be some bipartisan consensus at some point in time to be there for a while." [A-freakin'-mazing. Bipartisanship he'd like to see.]
President Bush understands the public frustration with the war: "We put highly trained sophisticated military people in harm’s way and they battle $100 IEDs." [...] But he said he has "tools" in the debate, including "the bully pulpit and the ability to convince the American people." He wants both to convince them that success is still possible, and "remind my fellow citizens of what the consequences of failure will be."
The president said it’s important to get good news that the media can’t downplay or ignore, to get "tangible evidence that even the filter can’t filter out — less violence, less [casualties]."
Repeatedly, the president expressed the utmost confidence in Gen. Petraeus. He expects to get a straight report from him in September and for the general’s voice to be taken seriously in the debate over the war. "The most credible person in the fight at this moment is Gen. David Petraeus," he said.
President Bush rejected the notion that he will be constrained by the availability of troops come next spring and will have to draw down the surge. He said, with a pointed ending to his answer, The key factor that I’m confident that David Petraeus is looking at as he comes back is how to achieve the initial objective he set out, which is to provide enough security for the political process to move forward. I’m sure that in the bowels of the Pentagon people are looking at troop rotations and troop movements, but that is not the primary objective of our commander on the ground — next question."
He said, eventually, "We need to be in a position that can sustain a long-term troop presence ..."
Stubborn. And deluded. You can't get angry at this point. As others have noted, this is a president that is disconnected from any normal political pressure. He will do whatever he wants unless constrained by some other power (like the funding authority of Congress). He will not leave Iraq on his own, no matter what. The ploy of Surge+Wait_for_the_Petraeus_report was designed to give Bush another 12-18 months to burn, keeping the U.S. in Iraq so that the mess will be for someone else to clean up.
Oh, and there was this exchange at the meeting:
He marveled at one of the media’s lines of questioning at his Thursday press conference, "They asked me yesterday 'Are you sure it’s al Qaeda [in Iraq]?' ‘Yeah, how do you know?' 'Because they swore allegiance to Osama bin Laden is how I know. Yeah, it’s al Qaeda.' My point though to people is that it is the same crowd that killed 3,000 that is trying to drive us out of Iraq."
Is this PR for the rubes? Or do Bush & Co. really believe it? Does it even matter? The thing about this proclaimed denial of the realities is this, it sets the stage for a subsequent "stabbed in the back" narrative
Get ready for it.