Orwell turns in his grave

By Mark Follman
Published August 30, 2004 4:07PM (EDT)

President Bush takes plenty of flak for his less-than-eloquent locution, but impromptu fumblings aside, his latest campaign statement on Iraq is a calculated exercise in cognitive dissonance -- an astonishing attempt to whitewash the post-invasion debacle by indirectly "blaming" the U.S. military's victorious surge to Baghdad last year. On the eve of the Republican convention, Bush said that the daunting problems now plaguing the reconstruction are a result of a "catastrophic success," of, "being so successful so fast that an enemy that should have surrendered or been done in escaped and lived to fight another day."

Democratic vice presidential candidate John Edwards quickly released a statement exposing the audacity of Bush's message:

"President Bush now says his Iraq policy is a catastrophic success. He's half right. It was catastrophic to rush to war without a plan to win the peace. It was catastrophic to ignore the warnings of the military leadership about the risks of an unstable post-war Iraq. It was catastrophic to dismiss warnings of creating chaotic terrorists havens  And it was catastrophic to tell the American public that rebuilding Iraq would not burden the American taxpayers with a bill of $200 billion and rising.

"The most disturbing part of the president's statement is the suggestion that somehow our military is at fault for moving too fast before the enemy was 'done in.' Our troops fought magnificently in Iraq. Their efforts can only be described as an unqualified success. I didn't think 'shock and awe' was designed to move slowly.

"A Commander-in-Chief should never take our nation to war without a plan to win the peace. Real leadership means taking responsibility for your decisions good and bad. Our troops and our nation deserve better.

"In one sense, President Bush is right with his new campaign slogan 'catastrophic success.' His successful misleading of the American public is truly catastrophic."

Mark Follman

Mark Follman is Salon's deputy news editor. Read his other articles here.

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