Josh Marshall wrote this about Bush yesterday. It's provocative, but I don't agree with it:
His entire legacy as president is bound up in Iraq. Which is another way of saying that his legacy is pretty clearly an irrecoverable shambles. That is why, as the folly of the enterprise becomes more clear, he must continually puff it up into more and more melodramatic and world-historical dimensions. A century long ideological struggle and the like. For the president a one in a thousand shot at some better outcome is well worth it, no matter what the cost. Because at least that's a one in a thousand shot at not ending his presidency with the crushing verdict history now has in store. It's also worth just letting things keep on going as they are forever because, like Micawber, something better might turn up. Going double or nothing by expanding the war into Iran might be worth it too for the same reason. For him, how can it get worse?
That's not what he's thinking at all, though it vaguely resembles what he's thinking.
When I look at Bush, I see absolutely no worry, absolutely no self-doubt -- it just isn't there. A year ago, under pressure from a newly elected Democratic Congress and the Iraq Study Group, he told us he's "sleeping a lot better than people would assume" -- no surprise given the fact that, just as the war was starting, observers were "struck by his tranquillity" and the fact that he was "surprisingly serene." You think he thinks "his legacy is pretty clearly an irrecoverable shambles"? I don't -- I think he still sleeps like a log. After all, he's 100% certain history will vindicate him.
However, even he can see that things aren't hunky-dory in Iraq. So he has to look for a way to reconcile those two facts -- and yes, he does think it's a fact that he's doing absolutely the right thing and eventually everyone will know that.
And that's where "puff[ing] it up into more and more melodramatic and world-historical dimensions" comes in. It's the only way he can reconcile the two irreconcilable facts. He's thinking, I'm dealing with this absolutely the right way, but it's so horrible and so huge that of course it still looks grim.
Remember, he was the drunk and screwup brother, and now he's president and you're not (and Jeb's not). He believes in reversals of fortune, and he believes they come to him because he deserves them.
So, no, Josh, he's not doubling down because he's desperate. He's right. The world just doesn't know it yet.