Somewhere in the back of my mind, while laying low trying to beat the obscene SoCal heat wave, I was thinking last night… Wouldn’t it be just like Bush to show up in Iraq on Labor Day.
Needless to say I wasn’t surprised when I woke to the headline this morning that Bush had made a “surprise” visit to Iraq. The whole “surprise” tag line sort of reminded me of Gomer Pyle… “Surprise, Surprise“… except it was no small surprise. The visit is as transparent as it can get. Bush is there hyping the surge “success,” in a last ditch effort before Congress reconvenes. Bush “warned Washington war critics who are pushing for quick troop withdrawals to temper their expectations.”
During a rally for troops at the base, Bush said any pullout would be made from a position of “strength and success.”
The White House is due to deliver to Congress next week an assessment on Bush’s increase of 30,000 troops to Iraq this year.
“People shouldn’t jump to conclusions until the general and the ambassador report,” Bush said.
And of course, the not surprise of the day was that the “White House denied the trip was a publicity visit ahead of a report about U.S. troop increases in Iraq to be delivered by Petraeus next week in Washington.” Bush advisers claimed the “trip was so Bush could have face-to-face meetings with al-Maliki and local Sunni leaders in an effort to move them closer toward political reconciliation.”
Bush was joined by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates on his trip to Iraq.
Bush said that he, Gates, and Rice “came here today to see with our own eyes the multiple changes that are taking place in Anbar Province,” noting that last summer he was told Anbar was lost, but that Iraqi citizens “refused to give in” and as a result the province is far calmer today.
Anyone who didn’t see Bush’s staged “surprise” visit coming either has tunnel vision or was wearing blinders. There’s discussion in the blogosphere at: The Van Der Galiën Gazette; The Moderate Voice; Brilliant At Breakfast; The Mahablog; Corrente; Jules Crittenden; and Newshoggers.