If nothing else, you know we are winning the battle of ideas when even the Bush administration is reversing itself at a dizzying pace.
Not long ago the administration acknowleged the reality of global warming and announced that it would not block work towards a new global warming treaty (though both Senators Obama and McCain are firmly committed to one anyway so it really didn't matter what the Bush administration did.)
Then as I blogged about last week, they reversed what had been a policy set in stone against talking to Iran. This was done without preconditions (though in a meeting involving multiple nations) and represents a complete about face from a President who just a month ago made a speech in Israel in which he suggested that anyone who wanted to talk to Iran was guilty of pursuing a policy of "appeasement." It also shows that despite the rhetoric criticizing Senator Obama's proposal that we should actually negotiate with our enemies rather than just bark at them, the proposal is both sound and long overdue.
That however pales into insignificance compared to the next flip-flop. The entire debate between the White House and Congress over the past two years has been about troop withdrawals. The White House vetoed multiple Iraq funding bills (and had the vetoes upheld by their congressional allies) all over the singular issue of a withdrawal timetable. Even with the reduction of violence in Iraq since we began paying Sunni militiamen to fight al-Qaeda instead of us and simultaneously implemented "the surge"*, the President has refused to consider troop reductions on a set schedule. But he had little choice, after Iraqi President Nouri al-Maliki for all intensive purposes endorsed Barack Obama's proposal (which reflects the collective view of the Democratic Congress) that the American troops can and should be withdrawn on a schedule. The timing of this proposal, on the eve of Senator Obama's trip to Iraq could not be more embarrassing for the Bush administration which was already stunned when the Iraqi government refused to accept their demands and ended negotiations on a 'status of forces' agreement which would have kept U.S. forces in Iraq permanently and beyond the reach of the Iraqi legal system. While Obama himself has allowed that the pace could be slightly adjusted to account for events on the ground, the new Iraqi position clearly represents a meeting of minds, and it is one in which Bush and John McCain are the odd men out. So no wonder the Bush administration has reversed their position on a timetable. It is now a foregone conclusion that we won't have a permanent occupation force in the up to sixty bases that were once envisioned, and all Bush is doing is putting the best face he can on what is clearly a defeat for his policy. And after five years of war, a trillion dollars and thousands of dead American soldiers it will be tough once we do leave for anyone to make the case that invading Iraq was anything other than a mistake.
So then today we see the President apparently reversing himself on Habeus Corpus. (Hat tip to lscottsman at Coldhearted Truth, linked to.) He now says he wants prisoners to be charged and given a trial or released if they are not charged.
Hmmmm.... Not that I'm complaining about the changes (it's nice to know that for at least the last half a year of the Bush administration we will have some sanity) but I'm trying to think--- what exactly is it that George W. Bush stands for, anyway?
*-- any discussion of the 'surge' does have to (in order for me to be academically honest) include the admission that yes, I once predicted it would fail. I'll save you the trouble and link to the post where I made that prediction right here. But yes, I'm actually happy to say that I was wrong in my prediction that the surge would not bring about a reduction in violence-- and one that has led to the present situation in which the Iraqi government refused to sign the agreement the Bush administration wanted and is instead telling us in effect to start packing.