An Open Letter to the Prez
Your Supreme Highness,
We can sympathize that you're feeling a bit beat up these days - what with scandals, crumbling policies and defecting supporters - but all Presidents have their setbacks. Just look at your father. Still, we'd like to help. Here's some free advice since Karl is probably too busy talking to lawyers to talk to you these days.
You made that speech yesterday castigating those who are now questioning your sincerity in going to war. While you may think this is the way to repair the damage, we're not so sure.
The first, and arguably biggest, error is that you're essentially advocating that healthy dissent be squashed like a june bug at a Texas barbecue. This doesn't paint a pretty picture, especially when selling the war on the merits of it protecting and spreading democracy, a key component of which is the right to dissent. Oh, and by the way, the Supremes aren't buying your other ideas about a democracy either. You've tried this tack before and we're not seeing it garner any stellar results.
We can easily believe that many people think you're dishonest. We know this pisses you off mightily. It isn't a nice charge against anyone, but it is one of only two assumptions people can make about you and your conduct of the war. The other is that you're incompetent.
There's no doubt, even your sharpest critics admit, that you got some bum information, but you got plenty of warnings about the quality of your intel too. You chose to ignore them. While you like to paint yourself as the unwitting dupe of the CIA, couching your decision for war solely as one driven by faulty intelligence is a little disingenuous. So if you didn't intentionally rig the intel, that means you were incompetent in how you digested it. It's a lose-lose situation.
Your conduct of the war has also been questionable. You dressed in a flight suit and declared victory early on only to find yourself having to repeatedly admit that things were still not under control. This insistence on flash over results was not a good omen for your future behavior. While we do give you props for a valiant attempt at painting the pig so that it sounded like a rousing success, everything clearly wasn't good in the Iraqi paradise. Your problem can be summed up in one word - television. It's hard to make something sound good when it looks so very, very bad.
So here's our advice:
Stop using the others who voted for going to war as a shield. They were either incompetent or dishonest too. Using them as a shield is like robbing a bank and defending yourself by saying, "well, they told me it was OK." It makes you look weak, petty and vindictive. We're assuming that's not the look you were going for.
Stop listening to the people who've been living with you in the Big White House Bubble for so long. They keep shouting, but it's impossible for you to hear with all the echos off the walls. Fire the craven bastards who've served you poorly. The time has long passed for it and that is reflected in the public sentiment. Also, don't pardon them before the fact, that only corrupts any changes before you even begin them.
Stop listening so intently to the far right of your party and embrace what you ran on but never acted upon - being a compassionate conservative who is a uniter, not a divider. If you ever doubt the wisdom of this approach, remember two words - Dover, Pennsylvania.
And finally, read the newspaper once in awhile. We know you don't like it and think it's some crazy badge of honor, but it's not - it's just stupid. We know you don't think you need to know what other people think, but newspapers are an excellent window into the world the rest of us live in. Come. Join us. The water's fine.
Just do something instead of shifting blame to others all the time. You screwed up. Just cop to it. If you don't, people will see you only as a spoiled little boy who never had to take responsibility for anything in his life. While we suspect that impression may very well be right, it is an impression the country can ill-afford. Because frankly, the country's going to hell in a hand basket. We need a strong hand at the wheel, not one who pouts about the terrible things that have befallen his rise to power and glory and about how everyone else screwed up except him.
You're supposed to be a dynamic leader, so lead or get out of the way.
Your Loyal Opposition
Truth Told by Omnipotent Poobah, Saturday, November 12, 2005