I'm literally dizzy keeping track of the many levels of self-delusion chronicled in this Mike Allen article. First, there's the expected kind of self-and-other delusion, pretending Iraq is a smashing success.
Still, the Administration is ever optimistic. In an e-mail titled "Setting the Record Straight" late last week, the White House declared, "The President's foreign policy is succeeding."
Then there's the really dangerous self-delusion that the Bush Administration's actions are having (and are perceived as having) a positive effect on the crisis in the Middle East.
Making a virtue of necessity, the President's team says it sees the opportunity for a "leadership moment"—and, however counterintuitive, an unexpected new chance to make headway on Bush's grand goal of leaving the Middle East more democratic than he found it.
Which of course we know won't happen, because of the next self-delusions, that Sunni Arab client states are supporting the US for any other reason than fear of their own populist opposition, or that they will continue to support the US and Israel as Lebanese casualties rise.
By sending Rice to the region, the White House is gambling that Arab governments fear the Hizballah militants more than they resent the Israelis.
Then there's the self-delusion of White House staffers who believe a guy who just made an ass of himself on MTP and a guy who loses it when questioned by the grande dame of American journalism are helping Bush's cause.
Indeed, the West Wing is relatively upbeat after its annus horribilis. People close to Bush say chief of staff Josh Bolten and press secretary Tony Snow have given the place a desperately needed karmic injection.
And I'm not sure who is deluding whom, here. Is Mike Allen quoting someone in the White House, or does he really believe that the trouble with Iraq is simply that it "won't be peaceful"?
Yet Bush would dearly love to accomplish something, to neutralize anti-American forces in the Middle East and to redeem himself as a peacemaker. Without that, his foreign policy legacy lives and dies with Iraq, and it's looking ever more likely that the country won't be peaceful before he leaves office.
"Won't be peaceful"?? Um, Mike, at the very least, we're talking full-blown civil war. And it's looking more and more like, "biggest foreign policy blunder in American history." That's a little bit more problematic than "won't be peaceful."
About one thing only does this White House seem capable of clarity--their outlook on the mid-term election and the consequences losing the election would have on staying out of jail.
As for Bush himself, he is curtailing his traditional August working vacation at the ranch so that he can barnstorm before the midterm elections. Their outlook thus far seems so ominous for the G.O.P. that one presidential adviser wants Bush to beef up his counsel's office for the tangle of investigations that a Democrat-controlled House might pursue.
Well, at least we finally found something that could convince Bush to skip his French-style month-long vacation. Terrorists ready to strike in the US? Nope. A category 5 hurricane bearing down on America's most vulnerable city? Nope. The threat of facing consequences for his own actions? That will get him to cancel the vacation.
Glad to see Bush has his priorities in order.