The story continues:
Bush said lawmakers "have a right to express their views, and express them forcefully. But those who refuse to give this plan a chance to work have an obligation to offer an alternative that has a better chance of success."
Parsing such a quote is difficult, because there are so many ways one could go.
First, Bush has not offered a plan. Bush is simply shuffling the deck chairs on the Titanic. Second, "success" has no definition; if the idea is "ending the violence", offering more troops is not the answer, because it only adds fuel to an already raging inferno. Of course, wanting competent diplomacy from Condoleeza Rice's State Department is probably too much to ask, but diplomacy is the way to go. There is no way more guns, more bullets, more dead bodies will achieve whatever goals Bush thinks are achievable.
Let me be even more explicit. There is no policy, plan, ROE or TOE, in short nothing America can do to solve Iraq's problems. We may have created a chaotic situation, but it has spiralled so far out of anyone's control that fixing it is beyond the capacity of anyone currently in charge in the Executive Branch of the United States government. For our country's sake, for the the sake of the lives of our service men and women, for the sake of the lives and security of the American people, getting out and allowing Iraqi politics to take whatever course they might take is the only course of action guaranteed to keep the US from collapsing.
As far as Congress "expressing their views", forcefullly or otherwise, Bush just doesn't get the role Congress plays. This isn't about being vocal. It is about overseeing what the President does, of approving or disapproving, of ensuring that what the President proposes is in the best interests of the United States. It is the President who can express his views, offer a policy, and be forceful about it. It is Congress that decides the final form of that policy. Primus enter parum of the three branches of the federal government, Congress is the place where the people's representatives figure out what is best for all of us. It is messy, to be sure, and there are all sorts of disagreements and horrid politics that go on. Sadly, that is the way our country's government was designed, and it is well that Bush was reminded of that fact this week as his Secreataries of Defense and State appeared before Senate committees charged with oversight of Executive Branch policy-making. Rather than the Republican railroad on which we've all been riding since 2001, we are now witnessing how Congress and the Executive work as they are designed to work. The President proposes, Congress disposes.
No one need answer the President's challenge, of course, because the premises at the heart of the challenge are either wrong, nonsensical, or just plain wrong. It is the President who must do what has to be done to pull his own chestnuts out of the fire. It is the President who has the power to offer constructive solutions to the Iraqi mess, but consistently refuses to do so. It is the President who has brought us to this point, and he must be made to realize that, having done so, he must pull us back from the brink on which we currently hang.
Which means, of course, that we are, most likely, in for a very rough time. Echoing sentiments voiced by Sen. McCain, Bush most likely considers "failure" and "defeat" unthinkable, even though the first is entirely applicable to our current situation, and the last has no meaning of which I am aware. As the President has said repeatedly that withdrawal equals defeat - again, no meaning! - he won't even hear these proposals, so that leaves us with his as the only option available to America. It is a nice, neat, meaningless circle in which Bush arrives at policy and speaks to the American people. Since he has closed off the possibility of considering alternatives, to him, there aren't any. Our choices are few, and our options for dealing with such irrational intransigence are fewer. I fear for us over the next few months as this dynamic plays out.