What Bush Stands to Lose on Iraq

“How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake?” – John Kerry

SFGate thinks Bush stands to lose little by “staying the course”:

Facing rock-bottom poll numbers and the judgment of history, President Bush has little to lose politically in using the last 18 months of his presidency to try to prove critics of his war policy wrong. The president followed that path Thursday, finding promise in a “young democracy” in Iraq despite descriptions by his own administration of a deeply fractured society.

The rest of his Republican Party, however, is looking at something entirely different: elections for the House, Senate and the presidency that, absent a miraculous turnaround in Iraq or a suicidal stumble by Democrats, are headed for a debacle.

What his stubbornness will lose is dear to us all.  His pigheaded refusal to deal with the reality of Iraq will result in hundreds of US soldiers, lost.  It will result in thousands of Iraqis killed.  It will be billions of dollars wasted.  It will be terrorist threats ignored.

The political cost of this will be heavy.  Even Bush’s sagging poll numbers can dive further.  History has not yet finished judging his actions.  Some small redemption is possible even if only in the lives he will refrain from spending.  That is one of the key differences to remember heading into ’08.  The Republicans aren’t just Cut and Spend, they are Tax and Spend, but we are talking about lives rather than income.

The real cost to Bush is the 2008 elections.  Just because his term of office ends, doesn’t mean his interest or his stake in politics ends with it.  And right now his actions are literally destroying the political careers of fellow Republicans.  McCain is one casualty.  Other supporters of the war will follow.  2006 was a long overdue wake up call, but now much of America is awake and watching intently.  If Bush cannot refrain from acting like a dangerous and arrogant bastard, he risks losing everything he has worked for during his terms of office.

As a liberal I am very excited at the prospect of turning back the painful policies his administration has worked to inflict upon the US.  But we need to be clear that Bush is not operating in a political vacuum caused by his weak and shrinking popularity.  The media narrative misses the very real cost of his actions: his legacy.

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