"It is amazing how thorough the victory in Iraq really was in the broadest context..... And the silence, I think, is that it's clear that nobody can do anything about it. There isn't anybody who can stop him. The Democrats can't oppose--cannot oppose him politically."Another thing occured to me on this anniversary of the "Mission Accomplished" speech, but slowly, over the course of the day. Three years is a long time to reflect on something, and today, as we reflect on the war, there seems to be relatively little fluidity in our opinion: it has been a disaster for so long, for so many reasons, that it seems like it's always been an ill-conceived, incompetent mess. Even the Tom Friedmans of the world have been critics of the war so long that it's hard to remember that they were fans during the May Day pronouncement.
--Washington Post's Jeff Birnbaum, 5/2/06
At the time, however, it was far from resolved. Bush wasn't announcing "the end of the liberation" (as Andrew Sullivan called it), he was attempting to use his power as President, bolstered by the trappings of war and empire, to convince Americans that it might actually be at an end. We were fighting a war of realities, one that continued for another year and a half through the Swift-boating of Kerry and Bush's exoneration in November 2004. (It's no wonder he felt he'd won a mandate from the people--he'd been running that very con for four years.) And at the time, it very much felt like he was winning.
Blogging was more fun then, because Bush was so large a presence, so corrupt, and yet so trusted. We peons felt like we were trying to take down a giant. Maybe that's why there are so few stories this year on the "liberation." We've settled into the knowledge that Bush is an incompetent, a tin-pot already doomed by history. In that same post Andrew Sullivan made three years ago, he expressed passing unease by Bush, whom, it seemed to him, might have his spectacle mistaken for looking "as if the president was using the military for partisan purposes."
George Bush is now so tiny he barely warrants attack. Following the lies of Iraq, the lies of Plame, the incompetencies of Rumsfeld, the torture, the grotesque revelations that Bush had put one of his fundraisers in charge of FEMA--following these things, it's impossible not to dismiss Bush as a spoiled, incompetent dullard son of a powerful man. He may wear jeans, but no one believes anymore that he can fill them out.
I'm not really planning to go anywhere more with this post--just that it's far less entertaining to either read or write about a man who is such a tiny, shadow of the figure he was three years ago. Once you've looked behind the curtain, you can never again take the wizard seriously.