By all means, anonymous White House butt-covering spinmeisters, keep this up, because everyone's going to buy this line of craptastic spin:
"The reality on the streets of Baghdad suggests Maliki is either ignorant of what is going on, misrepresenting his intentions, or that his capabilities are not yet sufficient to turn his good intentions into action," the story quoted the memo as saying.
The White House did not dispute the accuracy of the quoted material from the memo, but a senior administration official, reacting on condition of anonymity to details of the published classified memo, said Wednesday that, taken as a whole, it is an expression of support for al-Maliki.
"You have a constant reiteration of the importance of strengthening the Maliki government, the need to work with him, to augment his capabilities," the official said. He added that Bush and al-Maliki have a "personal relationship" that allows them to "talk candidly about the challenges."
Another official, also speaking anonymously because of the classified nature of the memo, said it was not "a slap in the face, but it's, 'How do we grow his capability.' "
Having the President stand up for the past few weeks and attempt to pass the buck for the mess in Iraq to everyone — from the rubber stamp Republicans in Congress, to the military commanders in the field, to Rummy, and on to Prime Minister Maliki and the Iraqis…anything to avoid any sort of accountability for his own and his Administration's failures which may have contributed to any part of the mess (heaven forbid that anyone in the Bush Administration take responsibility for mistakes and then learn from them), and then trying to say that he meant all of this tap dancing obfuscation as support? Who is he kidding, other than himself?
You think the folks that work for Stephen Hadley aren't strategically leaking this stuff as a pre-emptive public kabuki attempt prior to the meeting that Bush and Maliki have today? Please. This Administration's MO has been this sort of weird carrot and stick dance from the start — and if they can plant the story in the NYTimes and then demonize the whole charade as the "liberal media run amok" for the wingnut base, so much the better, right?
Do you think Karl Rove is in a coma or something? Because I don't, and this smells to high heaven of a turdblossom plant-and-smear-to-distract special.
Well, I call bullshit on the whole thing. It reeks of the Bush Administration, once again, trying to air out its dirty laundry under the guise of "don't blame us, but really there is some truth to it," and they ought not get away with it without someone saying so.
Here's a thought, though: what if the press refused to go along with the kabuki any longer? The hell with the anonymous after-the-fact rear-end covering quotes — which is exactly what these are. If the Administration wants to protect its flank, it can do so on the record or not at all. The media should not allow itself to be the laundering agent for the White House spin machine.
Let's take a moment to look at what can happen if someone refuses to play along. Take Jim Webb for example: apparently, according to The Hill and the WaPo, Senator-elect Webb refused to simply play along with the public nicey-nice about the Iraq war (having a child in harm's way makes it a little more difficult to play along with public niceties with a President who refuses to talk honestly about said war, doesn't it?). Webb did not seek out the President or in any way initiate conflict, but when Bush forced the issue of Iraq into the conversation, Webb was bluntly honest with him on how he felt — as he no doubt has been with past Presidents with whom he has worked — and the Bushies are not pleased with the "slight." Funny that.
Wonder how they feel about all of NATO telling the President to stop ordering them around and to start taking his own responsibilities more seriously. Bet that trip on Air Force One is one big joy ride today, how about you guys? Here's some truth for the folks at the White House: Iraq is not going well and everyone knows it. Everyone except President Rose-Colored Glasses — and we're all pretty clear on that point as well.
Oh, and al-Sadr pulling his support for the Maliki government while the man is out of the country meeting with Bush today? That's the way to shore up the Maliki government by "growing his capability." Heckuva job, Bushie — demanding a public meeting to shore up your sagging poll ratings? Heckuva job.