Bush stubbornly refuses to give up on the Iraq war, despite what Times reporters insists was the message delivered by the voters in November, and they're peeved at him. Congressional correspondent Sheryl Gay Stolberg reacts to Bush's Iraq speech last night outlining his plan for more troops in Iraq in her Thursday "news analysis," "Bush's Strategy for Iraq Risks Confrontations on Many Fronts."
"By stepping up the American military presence in Iraq, President Bush is not only inviting an epic clash with the Democrats who run Capitol Hill. He is ignoring the results of the November elections, rejecting the central thrust of the bipartisan Iraq Study Group and flouting the advice of some of his own generals, as well as Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki of Iraq."
The inevitable comparison to Vietnam comes up halfway in.
"Wartime clashes between presidents and the Congress are a familiar thread in American history. But perhaps no president since Richard M. Nixon has so boldly expanded an unpopular war. Explaining his decision to invade Cambodia in April 1970, Nixon said: 'A majority of the American people, a majority of you listening to me, are for the withdrawal of our forces from Vietnam. The action I have taken tonight is indispensable for the continuing success of that withdrawal program.'"
In chiding Bush for not signing on to the recommendations of the Iraq Study Group, Stolberg, like her colleague Jim Rutenberg before her, wonders why Bush thinks he can get away with acting like he's president or something.
"In a sense, it is a predictable path for Mr. Bush. This, after all, is the same president who lost the popular vote in 2000, was installed in the White House by a 5-to-4 vote of the Supreme Court and then governed as if he had won by a landslide. And this is the same president who, after winning re-election in 2004, famously told reporters that he had 'earned capital in the campaign, political capital, and now I intend to spend it.'"
(Last Thursday, Rutenberg referred to Bush as " the man who all but ignored the disputed circumstances of his election in 2000, governed from then as if he had an expansive mandate...")
David Sanger's lead story on Bush's echoes Stolberg's Cambodia comparison: "Not since Richard M. Nixon ordered American troops in Vietnam to invade Cambodia in 1970 has a president taken such a risk with an increasingly unpopular war."