Just by taking a gander at conservative columns and blogs, you can see that many on the right have found much to criticize in the record of President George W. Bush. When they take issue with the supposedly conservative Chief Executive, they reference statements he has made, individuals he has appointed and policies he has enacted (or failed to enact) — and many have taken issue with his failure to change military strategy in Iraq until this year. When many on the left (and in the MSM) take issue with the president, they often dispense with the facts and levy a bevy of charges on him, often without substantiating them — or by pulling statements out of context and/or offering only an incomplete version of the situation, leaving out key facts.
We see the latter in criticism/reporting of the president’s record in Iraq where writers, newscasters, bloggers, etc., present the bad news from Iraq, neglecting the good, for example, headlining pieces with the number of Americans killed while giving short shrift to the number of terrorists killed — and ignoring whether or not our side won the engagement that is the subject of their piece.
This morning (via Real Clear Politics), I discovered one such piece where columnist Sharon Begley echoes the criticism of Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid that the president is “‘in a state of denial’ about the situation in Iraq.” She answers criticism that this could be “dismissed as psychobabble” by quoting a number of psychologists, including Kerry Sulkowicz, clinical professor of psychiatry at New York University Medical Center who claims that the president “seems unmoved by the extent of the evidence that things are far worse than he believes. The tip-off for denial is perpetual optimism, a pathological certainty that things are going well.“
To be sure, the president has been optimistic that we will succeed in Iraq, but, in nearly every statement he has made on the War in Iraq, he has indicated that difficult times lie ahead. Mr. Sulkowicz offers his assessment without once quoting the president to show that he (the president) is not aware of the difficulties in Iraq. To be sure, he may well have addressed those issues, and Ms. Begley just chose to leave them out.
Indeed, in her entire piece on the President’s alleged state of denial (about the war in Iraq), she never once includes a statement of the president indicating a pollyannish view of Iraq (suggesting that there are no difficulties there) nor even once showing that the situation (in Mr. Sulkowicz’s words) is worse than the president believes. Indeed, she offers no facts about the situation in Iraq — or the results of the “surge,” the president’s new policy for victory in Iraq.
In short, in her piece, Ms. Begley fails to provide any of the “truths” she claims the president is denying.
She just joins Harry Reid in assuming that the war is lost. But, as the first reports come back from the “surge,” it seems that it isn’t the president, but his critics who are in denial. While the president has changed his strategy, they haven’t changed their tune, continuing to report on the setbacks (and there are many) and all but ignoring the successes (which even some in MSM have begun to note).
The president perennial critics seem to be in denial about the first signs of success of the surge.
While there has only been limited success, there has been substantial improvement in the once “volatile” Anbar province. This hasn’t escaped the notice of the MSM. In March, the Christian Science Monitor reported on the Widening schism between Sunnis and Al Qaeda. With tribal leaders turning on Al Qaeda, American and Iraq troops have been able to pacify the province.
That said, they still have work to do. And it seems the president is aware of this.
It seems as if Ms. Begley is writing about the president as he handled Iraq last year, unwilling to change a strategy that was not addressing the changing nature of the “insurgency” in Iraq, one where the various factions targeted holy sites of rival sects and were eager to murder civilians in attempt to foment civil war — and to influence the American people.
Perhaps, it was because of his party’s losses in November that the president realized he had need to change our strategy if we were to win this war. But, some of his critics, particularly those who came of age during the Vietnam War, seem to believe that the United States can’t win wars — and are determined to ignore the signs of our military’s success.
Ms. Begley indicates as much when she writes, “Bush could, of course, know full well that the United States cannot achieve its goals in Iraq.“
Ms. Begley, a science reporter, not a military analyst, quotes psychologists, and doesn’t address the facts on the ground. She doesn’t even mention the surge (something which indicates a change in policy). To be sure, she is reporting on his state of mind. But, if she wants to show that he’s in denial, she needs to show that the president’s perception of reality is at odds with the world as it is. She needs to show what he is denying. She just doesn’t provide any facts (or analysis) to show that the war is lost.
To do that, she’d have to address the military issues and talk to the president’s military advisors to see whether or not they believe we can win this war. And to look at the facts on the ground — to see if they are at odds with the president’s state of mind.
If anyone is in denial, it is Ms. Begley and the other Bush critics who refuse to consider the surge’s initial signs of success. She offers only one fact from the president’s life — that he “tried to cheer up his grieving mother” when “his baby sister died of leukemia.” An event that happened more than fifty years ago. She quotes one of the president’s political adversaries on the war, but not him.
To be sure, the president has made many mistakes in the war. He should have replaced commanders and shifted his strategy well before the GOP losses last fall. But, he has also long said that our path in Iraq would not be an easy one.
All this piece shows is how eager the president’s critics are to label him as cut off from reality. They’re not interested in understanding the real George W. Bush, but instead are interested in ascribing to him all kinds of psychological ailments. But, it seems they’re the ones suffering under one such ailment — what Charles Krauthammer has called “Bush Derangement Syndrome.”
– B. Daniel Blatt (GayPatriotWest@aol.com)