The man behind the curtain…

Whenever the Bushes get into a tight bind, they call in their leathery old troubleshooter, James Baker, the man who architected the strategy that led to Bush winningstealing Florida in 2000. That they have called him in again, this time to help the Codpiece in Chief disentangle America from the Iraq catastrophe he created, speaks volumes. According to this intelligent article, it could actually mean an abrupt change in strategy, just in time to save the Grand Old Party from annihilation in the November elections.

Since March, Baker, backed by a team of experienced national-security hands, has been busily at work trying to devise a fresh set of policies to help the president chart a new course in–or, perhaps, to get the hell out of–Iraq. But as with all things involving James Baker, there’s a deeper political agenda at work as well. “Baker is primarily motivated by his desire to avoid a war at home–that things will fall apart not on the battlefield but at home. So he wants a ceasefire in American politics,” a member of one of the commission’s working groups told me. Specifically, he said, if the Democrats win back one or both houses of Congress in November, they would unleash a series of investigative hearings on Iraq, the war on terrorism, and civil liberties that could fatally weaken the administration and remove the last props of political support for the war, setting the stage for a potential Republican electoral disaster in 2008. “I guess there are people in the [Republican] party, on the Hill and in the White House, who see a political train wreck coming, and they’ve called in Baker to try to reroute the train.”

The article charts Baker’s history of influencing the Bush family, and concludes if anyone at all can sway Bush from his God-ordained course, it’s he. With less than 80 days to the election, I can’t imagine Baker coming up with any solution that would change the nation’s mind about our misadventure in Iraq. But never sell Baker short: he’s ruthless and he’s smart. The piece concludes:

But with each passing day, the country is closer to the train wreck that Baker and others are said to fear. In the end, avoiding it might ride on the ability of Jim Baker to persuade the president that it’s time to declare victory and exit.

“The object of our policy has to be to get our little white asses out of there as soon as possible,” another working-group participant told me. To do that, he said, Baker must confront the president “like the way a family confronts an alcoholic. You bring everyone in, and you say, ‘Look, my friend, it’s time to change.'”

I always said this would be the way the war would end: Declare victory and leave with as much face as possible, knowing, as we did in Vietnam, that the “victory” would be short-lived. But it’s the best we can do. At least we can say we gave the Iraqis the tools for democracy and we left them to do with it as they will. That’s what Baker will try to convince Bush to see and accept. What they sneer at today as cutting and running will be touted tomorrow as winning and gracefully exiting.

The Discussion: 3 Comments

Riachard – great find! What we need in Iraq is another “Big Minh”. Duong Van Minh (known popularly as “Big Minh,” led the South Vietnamese army under Prime Minister Ngo Dinh Diem. He took over after the coup (11/63) when Ngo was murdered.

The US called on Big Mihn again in 1975 to hand over South Vietnam to the NVA. I’m sure Baker is trying to find another Big Minh to do the deed in Iraq right now!

August 21, 2006 @ 5:29 am | Comment

I don’t like that “confront an alcoholic” analogy. Just think how much nicer the world would be now if Bush had never quit boozing!

August 22, 2006 @ 1:22 pm | Comment

We have a Big Minh, Sen. His name is Little Moqtada. (Little compared to the father al Sadr, who was apparently a legitimate religious scholar as opposed to his thuggish warlord spawn.) And that’s who the U.S. will eventually turn Iraq over to, at least the parts that his militia can control.

If you read the New York Times, you will have noticed the trial balloon last week about how the U.S. is considering “alternatives to democracy.” That means dumping the “elected Iraqi government,” which doesn’t control anything beyond the walls of the Green Zone. And who’s the biggest schtocker (sacreligious to use a Yiddish word for an Islamic fanatic, I know) outside the Green Zone? Moqtada!

It will be interesting to see the justification gyrations required for the rightists to sell this latest insane idea if that’s what it comes to.

August 22, 2006 @ 3:56 pm | Comment

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