Thursday, October 27, 2005

For Courting's a pleasure, and parting is grief....

There are a hundred versions of that old song (of British origin, and much-changed by the time it got over the ocean and became "On Top of Old Smokey). The words just popped into mind at news of the withdrawal of Harriet Miers from nomination for the US Supreme Court. After all this angst, she's not the only one suffering withdrawal. A collective "Wphew!!!" has just gone up from all corners of the Last Remaining Superpower. This particular episode of the OK Corral was not going to be pretty.

Paul Begala (author of one of the worst pieces of yellow journalism in American history, and I mean ALL of American history-- his attempt to link Bush and "Red-state" America to the red blood of Matthew Shepard, James Byrd. and the Oklahoma City bombing victims) said to Wolf Blitzer on CNN this morning that the withdrawal of nominee Miers will be seen as a sign of weakness in Bush, making him a lame duck (a dead duck if his guru Rove is indicted). I couldn't help but remember what was touted as one of Bush's worst moments in the 2004 election "debates"-- where at the townhall-type forum he was asked if he could name a few mistakes that he had made as president. Bush's reply was as lame as much of the rest of his debate performance-- he said he regretted a few appointments he had made. (Heh!)

The response to this from the left was that an inability to admit mistakes is one of Bush's greatest character faults-- of course, they had a very specific list of what he should consider to be his mistakes, the first of which (after his having the temerity to get up and draw breath every morning) was the invasion of Iraq. Back when they were holding him up as the antithesis of the nuanced and sensitive perfections of John Kerry, Bush could have risen in their esteem if only he were to demonstrate an awareness of his errors in judgement, and reverse them. This would be a sign of humility and open-mindedness.

Now it's a sign of weakness that will bring the President to his knees. Begala (whose continued employment in the news business, as if he were a person of any respectability instead of a bigoted hack) tried, as always, to disguise his wishful thinking as pundit speculation. No sale. The President screwed up. Charles Krauthammer (God bless him) gave him an exit strategy and he took it. It could not have been easy, but it was wise.

Prior to the announcement of Miers' withdrawal, Kate O'Beirne, a fine lady who is heard from too seldom in National Review, composed an open letter to her, advising her to get out of the bubble and seek counsel with some friend who was willing to tell her the truth. "Harriet, the hearings are going to be an embarrassing disaster...The smart money is betting you won’t be confirmed. (Are you being told that?) Your decision to accept the nomination was ill-considered. If you accepted owing to your desire to help the president, you should know that nomination has only damaged him. "

Ouch, ooch. But the truth, and O'Beirne (who does not apparently know Miers personally) is one of the best friends she has in Washington just now.

The sad thing about all this is the Bush himself does not appear to have any such friends of his own. He seems to be in a bubble that almost no one can penetrate, except people (like Karl Rove, Andy Card, and Karen Hughes), who should at least be sharing his ear with others who have differing views. It's friends like these three who insulate him from the humility that would have prevented the mess he just got himself into. (And who stood by as he went into the above-mentioned campaign debates so absurdly under-prepared.) His next nominee will say a lot about whether he got the message-- whether he has true friends, or just bubble polishers.

Two things: military casualty counts are not simple things, which is why the military doesn't trade in them anymore. (Tommy Franks is often quoted, with disdain, as saying, "We don't do body counts," like he was trying to hide something. What he meant was that we don't use enemy corpse numbers to signal victory, as Robert Incredibly Stange McNamara did during Vietnam.)

Here are a couple of people absolutely in the know about these matters, who can show why it's a mistake to be simple-minded about them:
Lt Col. Steve Boylan (thanks to Powerline and Michelle Malkin)
James Robbins at NRO

And JD at Faces from the Front has one of those comments that tell the salivating peaceniks why they should just shut the hell up.

As for the salivating simple-minded, don't let anyone tell you they're not happy to see the Grim Milestone soldier die-- just look at their faces.