It has become increasingly clear to me that the Bush administration has entirely lost its way, and within a couple hours worth of time over the weekend no less than five life-long Republicans I know each expressed their complete lack of faith with Bush and company (it was amusing and oh so coincidental that three of the five came right out and said they were embarrassed by the administration). The breaking point for each of my friends included the well publicized 'candid and unrehearsed' discussion Bush had with ten soldiers in Iraq last Friday. The White House press secretary was asked during a daily press conference if there was the usual staged and well rehearsed setup to this discussion, which this administration is notorious for (of course, with the president's stumbling when he tries to answer questions, his staff limits press conferences of all types more than any other president in the modern era). Scott McClellan, the press secretary, wihtout hesitation replied there was no prepping of the soldiers and that they were, as always, also free to ask qestions of the president. Little did McClellan know that the press had obtained a feed of a full dress rehearsal run by Allison Barber, a Pentagon official, who rehearsed questions the president was asking and the responses the soldiers were to give. Of course, the responses were completely positive and supportive, and were what the president wanted to hear in the face of dismal public opinion polls.
It is one thing to prepare soldiers for something like this, and another to use them as props for a purely political event (which is now a fiasco). This is right up front with landing on the carrier in a flightsuit with the "Mission Accomplished" banner in the background. In fact, the rosy picture the soldiers were asked to give Bush as an answer to a question he asked about the progress being made training Iraqi security forces ran in disagreement with what Pentagon officials reported that same day to Congress, where it was reported the number of 800-man battalions that were completely trained was reduced from three down to one, and training will need to continue for over another year before significant numbers are ready. There seems to be a complete disconnect between Bush and his inner circle and reality, and I am glad to see public opinion polls continuing to drop to weekly record lows. We still have over two years with this guy (I want to pull my finger nails out at that thought), but for the country's sake the administration needs to wake up on all fronts. How can we believe anything they say, as they are caught in blatant lies sch as this and have a record of ignoring science, data and evidence that go against their policy goals? By the way, Harriet Meiers has been quoted as saying Bush is "the most brilliant man I've ever met." This is supposed to be our next Justice on the highest court in the land?