Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf on Joseph Galloway:
… the finest combat correspondent of our generation — a soldier’s reporter and a soldier’s friend.
Joe Galloway on the Bush Jr. Administration:
October 26, 2006
If President George Bush’s hasty news conference on Iraq this week was the Republican October Surprise — unveiling some sudden presidential flexibility after three and a half years of stubbornly staying a losing course — it didn’t work.
With the midterm elections now days away, it smacked more of a change in semantics than a serious change in the direction of a war that seems to be spiraling out of control.
“Benchmark” is the new White House buzzword. We’re not setting a “timetable” for the withdrawal of America’s 147,000 troops in Iraq. We’re not putting any real heat on Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. No cutting and running for us.
And, yes, the president has full faith and confidence in the chief architect of the war in Iraq, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld. You’re doing a heckuva job, Rummy. Never mind that your approval rating is at 12 percent among the American people, Don. The Decider puts you at 110 percent.
So we’re going to stay put in Iraq; going, in fact, to stay the course all the way to victory. We aren’t going to be drawing down our troops, who are square in the middle of a burgeoning Iraqi civil war. In fact, we might even send more troops over there if the president can find any to send from an Army and Marine Corps already stretched so thin that you can read your morning paper through them.
The president says that there’ll be tough fighting to come, which is hardly news to a military that’s already suffered more than 2,800 killed and 22,000 wounded; a military so ground down that it won’t be able to man the next annual deployments without once again reaching out and activating thousands of Army National Guard and Reserve troops that have maxed out their active duty availability.
Oh yes. One other bit of news: the White House that says nothing is too good for our troops has turned its back on a plea by Army leaders for a $25 billion increase in its 2008 budget so it can carry out the missions the administration has assigned to it.
The White House Office of Management and Budget rejected Army chief Gen. Peter J. Schoomaker’s extraordinary plea by for the additional funds to pay for repairing and replacing thousands of worn out and blown up tanks, Bradley fighting vehicles and Humvees.
Instead of the $25 billion that Schoomaker says the Army needs just to keep doing what it’s been doing with spit, adhesive tape and baling wire for the last five years, the Pentagon says the Army can have $7 billion.
The president declared himself confident that Republicans would sweep to victory and maintain their stranglehold on both houses of a Congress that’s done nothing but rubberstamp Bush’s war policies and Republican efforts to enrich their fat-cat donors and themselves, of course.
If he’s right and that’s the result of the Nov. 7 elections, then the American people will finally have fulfilled H.L. Mencken’s prophecy that we’d continue choosing the lowest common denominator until, in the end, we get precisely the government we deserve.
Meantime, Vice President Dick Cheney confirmed that some of the senior al-Qaeda terrorists in our custody have been subjected to “water-boarding,” a torture that brings the victim within a hair of drowning and suffocation. Cheney declared that it was a “no-brainer.” My thoughts exactly: Only people with no brains opt to torture a captive in violation of domestic and international law.
This unseemly circus and its clowns in Congress can’t go away fast enough and with enough dishonor and disgrace to suit the circumstances. Their place in America’s history is secure: They will go down as the worst administration and the worst Congress we’ve ever had. Period.
They deserve to lose both the House and the Senate on Nov. 7, and the White House in 2008. They bullied their way into a war that they thought would be a slam-dunk and then so bungled things that the only superpower left in the world has been humbled and hobbled in a world that they’ve made more dangerous for us.
Thanks, guys. You’ve done a heckuva job. We won’t forget it.