Tuesday, August 15, 2006
President Bush made clear in a private meeting this week that he was ... frustrated that the new Iraqi government -- and the Iraqi people -- had not shown greater public support for the American mission, participants in the meeting said Tuesday....
..."The president wants the people in Iraq to get more on board to bring success," [said one person who attended the meeting].
...More generally, the participants said, the president expressed frustration that Iraqis had not come to appreciate the sacrifices the United States had made in Iraq....
One participant in the lunch, Carole A. O'Leary, a professor at American University who is also doing work in Iraq with a State Department grant, said Mr. Bush expressed the view that "the Shia-led government needs to clearly and publicly express the same appreciation for United States efforts and sacrifices as they do in private." ...
--from tomorrow's New York Times
Translation: "Listen, you ungrateful bastards, it's time for you to get on the stick and start making me look good. Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know -- 'We're in a civil war! We have a hundred violent deaths a day!' Well, cry me a river. We have an election coming up in America, and it's a referendum on me, and I'm dying here. So what are you gonna do for me?"
(Elsewhere in the Times: "July appears to have been the deadliest month of the war for Iraqi civilians, according to figures from the Health Ministry and the Baghdad morgue.... An average of more than 110 Iraqis were killed each day in July, according to the figures. The total number of civilian deaths that month, 3,438, is a 9 percent increase over the tally in June and nearly double the toll in January.")
Two years ago,* Bush at least refrained from making demands on individuals or institutions he himself had personally destroyed (at least to the best of my knowledge). On the other hand, he had the gall to try to strong-arm the Vatican:
On his recent trip to Rome, President Bush asked a top Vatican official to push American bishops to speak out more about political issues, including same-sex marriage, according to a report in the National Catholic Reporter, an independent newspaper.
In a column posted Friday evening on the paper's Web site, John L. Allen Jr., its correspondent in Rome and the dean of Vatican journalists, wrote that Mr. Bush had made the request in a June 4 meeting with Cardinal Angelo Sodano, the Vatican secretary of state. Citing an unnamed Vatican official, Mr. Allen wrote: "Bush said, 'Not all the American bishops are with me' on the cultural issues. The implication was that he hoped the Vatican would nudge them toward more explicit activism."...
It really is all about him, isn't it?
Ah, but there's one more lovely detail in the Times article about the meeting:
...Vali R. Nasr, an expert on Shia Islam, said the Pentagon meeting appeared to be an effort to give White House, Pentagon and State Department officials better insight into Iraq's religious and ethnic mix.
"They wanted new insight, so they could better understand the arena in which they are making policy," said Mr. Nasr, author of "The Shia Revival." ...
They still need insight into Iraq's religious and ethnic mix now? Nearly six years after they started planning for the Iraq invasion? No wonder this war is a quagmire.
*UPDATE: In case it's not clear, that was two years ago just as the '04 campaign was beginning to heat up.