MR. LEHRER: Is there a little bit of a broken egg problem here, Mr. President, that there is instability and there is violence in Iraq – sectarian violence, Iraqis killing other Iraqis, and now the United States helped create the broken egg and now says, okay, Iraqis, it's your problem. You put the egg back together, and if you don't do it quickly and you don't do it well, then we'll get the hell out.
PRESIDENT BUSH: Yeah, you know, that's an interesting question. I don't quite view it as the broken egg; I view it as the cracked egg —
MR. LEHRER: Cracked egg?
PRESIDENT BUSH: — that – where we still have a chance to move beyond the broken egg. And I thought long and hard about the decision, Jim. Obviously it's a big decision for this theater in the war on terror, and you know, if I didn't believe we could keep the egg from fully cracking, I wouldn't ask 21,000 kids – additional kids to go into Iraq to reinforce those troops that are there.
Ordinarily, I'd find this latest PR blunder by Bush last night funny, if only the consequences of his failure to comprehend that even a badly cracked egg is no better than a broken one weren't so tragic. Given his lifelong track record, it really is no wonder that Bush has such a hard time defining "success" for Iraq. Perhaps the President thinks he can wrap Iraq with duct tape and make it all better, but the reality is that once the eggshell is cracked and the albumen and yolk are oozing out like it is here, you've got problems.
Still, the egg can be salvaged, but only by switching tactics. Yes, you had your heart set on hard boiling it, but you need to reconsider your expectations of the egg in its current state. A quick consultation with a cookbook determines that you and the egg have several options available. Conversely, you can intractably insist that options be damned, you are going to hard boil that egg. Just don't be surprised when you lift up the pot lid and find a gloppy mess floating free of its shell.
Since the latest "product roll-out" last week, Bush and his minions have taken to the airwaves to explain why the gloppy mess is preferable to a frittata. Like an obnoxious American tourist who thinks that he'll be understood by those dumb foreigners if he speaks English slowly and loudly, the President condescended to the NewsHour audience as he tried to get them "to understand" why he is plowing full-speed ahead with his new old plan of throwing more money and bodies at the problem. (Just wait until next week, people. The SOTU ought to be a doozy.)
Bush refuses to truck in such petty annoyances such as situational sensitivity, either. After all, this is the man who gave a shout out to the 101st Keyboard Kommandos and the SUV ribbon magnet owners last night:
Well, you know, I think a lot of people are in this fight. I mean, they sacrifice peace of mind when they see the terrible images of violence on TV every night. I mean, we've got a fantastic economy here in the United States, but yet, when you think about the psychology of the country, it is somewhat down because of this war. [Emphasis mine]
THIS is how he defines "sacrifice"? People with surging 401Ks are sacrificing their ebullience because television coverage of Americans getting blown up by IEDs in a winless war is harshing their mellow? It takes a real cynic to put the health of the economy ahead of the safety of the troops. Bush wouldn't want to do anything that might push the Dow below the 12K mark, like, say, raising taxes or instituting a national call to service. No, Bush quickly asserts, the volunteer army is doing just fine, thank you. Besides, people are sacrificing in their own ways. Help an old lady across that busy intersection. Donate to your favorite charity. Drop some spare change in that homeless guy's cup. You're doing just as much as that poor kid who lost both his legs in Anbar and is now facing at a cutback in veterans' benefits and expensive physical therapy. The mind, it reels.
I think it's worthy to note that the most surprising moment came not during Jim Lehrer's interview with the Decider-in-Chief, but after, during the discussion with David Brooks and Mark Shields. Of all people, David Brooks (perhaps unintentionally) summed up why Bush is a failure — above all else, he wants to absolve himself of the decision once he's made it. And it shows. Last night's interview was one big, rotten egg.
P.S. For what it's worth, I toted up his favorite words during the interview.
[fully] understand = 9
success [or grammatical variant thereof] = 16
failure = 10
You can read the whole transcript here.