Mike Luckovich drew a political cartoon in the March 30 edition of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that shows a diminutive and irate George W. Bush standing in the shadow of his father George H.W. Bush. A bystander says, "I'm watching the total eclipse of the son..." and GHW is holding a sheet of paper that says, "Didn't occupy Iraq because I knew what would happen."
I have been trying from the start to discern what is W's real reason for invading Iraq. No reason he has given yet is the real one, I believe. My tacit suspicion all along has been that he feels the need to somehow differentiate himself as a greater man and president than his daddy.
W has excelled at one thing: wresting and arrogating almost dictator-like powers unto himself and his political party. Undoing his legacy of just six years may require decades. Our sole salvation is that power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely; his hegemony may melt down from its own arrogance. (Fare thee well, Tom DeLay; hie thee to hell, Karl Rove.)
It also hurts the neocons that pragmatism, not ideology, is the proper tool of government. Believing oneself to be the divinely appointed savior of the free world (and Iraq) is no substitute for effectively planning and waging an invasion that has been often bungled from the start. Ideology also confuses criticism with antagonism; however, W's and Rumsfeld's greatest detractors are not saying pull out of Iraq, but allocate more resources to accomplish the job (in other words: finish the job, but more competently).
A greater man listens, and does not preselect his "advisors" to be only those who slavishly agree with him. A greater president leads a democracy, not an oligarchy.
Facing the chinks in his armor and the cracks in his administration's approval ratings, George Bush still has time to save his soul, and his legacy: to listen, and to truly lead, instead of merely pretending to do so.