Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Bubble Boy

Jonathan Chait

Try to mend Iraq all you want; just don't tell Bush the war was a mistake.

There is a famous "Twilight Zone" episode about a little boy in a small town who has fantastical powers. Through the misuse of his powers, the little boy has ruined the lives of everybody in the town - for instance, teleporting them into a cornfield, or summoning a snowstorm that destroys their crops. Because anyone who thinks an unhappy thought will be banished, the adults around him can do nothing but cheerfully praise his decisions while they try to nudge him in a less destructive direction.

This episode kept popping into my head when I was reading about President Bush and the Baker-Hamilton commission. Bush is the president of the United States, which therefore gives him enormous power, but he is treated by everybody around him as if he were a child.

Indeed, everybody seems to understand that if you want to help amend the disaster in Iraq, the No. 1 rule is that you can't acknowledge it's a disaster in Bush's presence. Weekly Standard Executive Editor Fred Barnes, the court stenographer of the Bush administration, recently reported that this was a key factor in the hiring of Defense Secretary Robert Gates.

Now, I would bet every dollar I own that Gates thinks the war was a mistake. But you can't say that to Bush. "Before hiring him," Barnes wrote, "Bush had to make sure Gates didn't think America's intervention in Iraq was a mistake."

Yes, Mr. President, it's good that you turned Iraq into a Hobbesian inferno of Al Qaeda terrorists and Islamist death squads. It's really, really good!

Please let me treat him like a child for a few minutes. He wouldn't be able to do any more damage standing in the corner (or chained to a radiator) with a sore behind.

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