"The accountability moment"

By Geraldine Sealey

Published January 18, 2005 3:31PM (EST)

President Bush caused a stir over the weekend when he made this rather typical comment to the Washington Post about his Iraq policy: "We had an accountability moment, and that's called the 2004 election. The American people listened to different assessments made about what was taking place in Iraq, and they looked at the two candidates and chose me, for which I'm grateful." Just as he claimed a general mandate from his narrow electoral win last November, Bush thinks his victory over John Kerry established unretractable public support for his handling of the war in Iraq. The American people, it appears, disagree with that assessment. From today's Washington Post:

"Bush said in an interview last week with The Washington Post that the 2004 election was a moment of accountability for the decisions he has made in Iraq, but the poll found that 58 percent disapprove of his handling of the situation to 40 percent who approve, and 44 percent said the war was worth fighting."

"The survey also found that, although Americans overwhelmingly oppose delaying the upcoming elections in Iraq, scheduled for Jan. 30, they are pessimistic that the vote will produce a stable government. Nearly six in 10 said it will not bring a stable government, but 57 percent said they see the elections as a step to the day that U.S. troops can be withdrawn from the country."

This morning, Juan Cole weighs in, suggesting that the president's flawed logic, his stubborn refusal to admit and fix errors, and his continued reckless foreign policy could ultimately be the downfall of the GOP:

"Bush doesn't seem to know the difference between getting a mandate to lead and getting a mandate to continue failed policies. Those Americans who voted for Bush often did so, according to polls, despite worries that Iraq wasn't going well. They didn't put him back in to just keep on making the same stupid mistakes. They put him back in in hopes that he had been seasoned by the errors and was committed enough to the project to see it through properly. That is why he should have fired the top three officials at the Department of Defense, to signal that he was going to make a course correction."

" ... Bush should have been elected, as a war president, with a big margin. He wasn't. He barely got back in. The American public is just not going to put up with this World War IV nonsense that the Neocons keep putting out. If Bush doesn't find a way to resolve the Iraq mess, and if he is so foolhardy as to pursue direct confrontation with Syria and Iran that proves just as disastrous, he may well turn the US public decisively against the Republican Party for decades, as the party of adventure, war and ruin."

Geraldine Sealey

Geraldine Sealey is senior news editor at Salon.com.

MORE FROM Geraldine Sealey

Related Topics ------------------------------------------

War Room