NOW Mission Accomplished

January 16, 2009

Krauthammer thinks so. He sees Bush as vindicated in Iraq, and the occupation essentially a success story:

“Obama will be loath to throw away the tools that have kept the homeland safe. Just as he will be loath to jeopardize the remarkable turnaround in American fortunes in Iraq.

Obama opposed the war. But the war is all but over. What remains is an Iraq turned from aggressive, hostile power in the heart of the Middle East to an emerging democracy openly allied with the United States. No president would want to be responsible for undoing that success.”

Andrew Sullivan, to put it mildly, disagrees:

“There are still well over 130,000 American troops occupying Iraq. We have no secure idea what will happen when they leave. We have as yet no reliable integration of Sunnis into the largely Shiite Iraqi military. We have not seen what will transpire after the looming regional elections. Terror attacks continue in ways that remain routine for Iraq but that are unimaginable in any other country. Critical issues like Kirkuk remain unmanaged. The very close alliance between Baghdad and Tehran goes unmentioned by Krauthammer but remains a serious question for the future.

It’s an attempt to set up the president-elect so that the disaster Bush created can soon be blamed on the man who thought it was a bad idea in the first place. It’s of a piece with the looming Republican plan to assail Obama for massive spending after the GOP increased government spending for eight years at a pace not seen since the 1930s.”

The rehabilitation of Bush and the rewriting of history continues apace. Obama hasn’t even taken office yet, and he’s already accumulating more and more responsibility for the war in Iraq and the failing economy.

As soon as Obama takes office, Republicans are going to be shocked and outraged by every setback in Iraq. You see, the surge worked, and Bush is handing Obama an Iraq that may not be Newport Beach, California, but it’s somewhere between postwar Germany and postwar Japan. The Baghdad markets are much like Indiana flea markets on a warm summer’s day, and John McCain can stroll through them without so much as a bulletproof vest. Post-surge Iraq is an emerging democracy, not a failed state. And if, as we withdraw combat troops, violence should escalate, or there should be any sort of political setback, it’s Obama’s fault. Bush had the Iraq problem nailed.

Same thing with the stimulus package. It’ll pass, no problem. Then the Republicans can say that Obama spent the country into fiscal ruin. As the recession gets worse through 2009 (which is inevitable), the Republicans can say that it was getting better, but Obama made it worse through excessive deficit spending. After all, that’s how Roosevelt caused the Great Depression, right?

How long before one of them publicly waxes nostalgic for Bush? I’m not talking about the certifiables like Coulter and Hannity, I’m talking about the seemingly-otherwise-technically-sane right-wingers like Peggy Noonan and David Brooks and George F. Will. I’ll give it until the end of March. Tops.

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