Bush: Winning or Saving a Legacy?

If there are any places President Bush hasn’t visited or made plans to visit while seeking solutions to the sad state of the war in Iraq, I don’t know where they are.

It’s almost as if he is on a vast scavenger hunt where the prize will provide the clues needed to help him solve his current dilemma in Iraq. Unfortunately, it’s becoming more and more obvious as he goes about his search that it’s more about saving his legacy than it is about winning a war that simply must be won.

If he were really looking for a way to end the struggle in Iraq, where wholesale slaughter is becoming a daily ordeal for the Iraqi people and combat deaths the price of wearing a U.S. uniform, he’d find a ready answer from those military exports who counsel doing whatever must be done to defeat the enemy.

Instead he wanders around Washington talking to the likes of State Department diplomats whose idea of waging a war is to figure out ways to appease world opinion even if it means surrendering to a rag-tag but determined bunch of Islamic thugs.

As our troops continue to die in Iraq he wastes precious time talking to James Baker and his collection of geriatric has-beens known as the Iraq Study Group, all the while knowing full well that their mundane recommendations are more designed to save face — and his legacy — than they are to achieve victory and a lasting peace in that strife-torn area.

George Bush doesn’t seem to understand that where his legacy is concerned, the only way to save it will be for him to leave office with a well-thought-out plan in place being vigorously pursued to ensure final victory over the global Islamic jihad now being waged in Iraq.

Anything less will see him go down in history as a badly flawed chief executive who wandered aimlessly into a war without having any idea of how to bring it to a successful conclusion and then left it to his successor to cope with.

One would think he would have learned a lesson from his father’s failure to create a legacy that would outlive his infamous “read my lips” exhortation that was soon followed by the tax increase he pledged he would never allow.

Instead, as his reputation and his popularity plunge by the hour, he chooses to surrounded himself with the very people most associated with his father’s administration — even to naming as his new Secretary of Defense a survivor of his father’s years in office — a man who promptly expressed his gratitude for the honor the president bestowed on him by publicly disagreeing with him, not once but twice within a space of 24 hours.

Waiting in the wings to assume the chairmanship of the powerful Government Reform Committee in the House is what may be the biggest threat to the Bush legacy, California’s Rep. Henry Waxman, who can’t wait to get his hands on that panel’s investigative machinery and turn it loose on George Bush and his administration.

"The most difficult thing will be to pick and choose," Waxman gleefully told the Associated Press, which noted that the choices he makes could help define Bush’s legacy.

"There is just no question that life is going to be different for the administration," Rep. Tom Davis, R-Va., the current committee chairman told the AP. "Henry is going to be tough. … And he’s been waiting a long time to be able to do this."

Given that grim prospect, if George Bush wants to leave behind a worthwhile legacy he is going to have to concentrate on creating a policy designed to obtain ultimate victory in Iraq — and one that begins to show solid results while he is still in office.

If he does that, what dirt Henry Waxman manages to dig up will amount to no more than a hill of beans — being on the road to victory will triumph over all other considerations.