Mashek: What Bush Never Talks About In Public

President Bush reached a new low on Independence Day in an incredible speech to an invitation-only crowd of Air National Guard families in West Virginia. That kind of gathering ensures no protesters inside the hall to disrupt our leader's line of thought.

Bush talked again about victory in Iraq. He meant military, of course, and not a political settlement. He is almost alone in sticking to the military solution. He then went further in declaring that the United States must defeat "al Qaeda in Iraq."

There was almost no al Qaeda influence in Iraq until we invaded that country prematurely without taking care of the Taliban and terrorists in Afghanistan. Any al Qaeda forces have come in later through Afghanistan, Iran, or Syria. But Bush never talks about that in public.

This administration--and the evidence is clear and abundant--was so eager to launch the assault on Iraq that it did very little planning for the consequences of its actions. Now the president and his cheerleaders, dwindling in number every day, are scaring us into thinking insurgents are on their way to New York City if not stopped in the desert.

The president also asked for patience. How many times has he repeated that line along with the promise that things would improve? They rarely do, and the sectarian war continues despite the latest "surge."

We live in a dangerous world. There's no question that terrorists are a genuine threat to life and limb. However, the Bush strategists unleashed much of the horror with that hasty attack on Iraq. Our troops have fought the good fight, almost alone. Talk of coalition forces was fanciful from the beginning, other than troops from the United Kingdom.

Friends say Bush is serene these days, confident of his decisions and his eventual place in history, although his approval rating has fallen behind even Richard Nixon's at the height of the Watergate scandal. As for his place in history, he continues to vie with Warren G. Harding as the nation's worst president. Given 1 1/2 more years in office, Bush might leave Harding safe for future historians.

By John W. Mashek