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Why Bush's Balanced Assessment of Iraq is Utterly Unbalanced

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So to hear the president and the White House spin it (and the media dutiful report it), the interim progress report on Iraq the administration will submit to Congress today is "a mixed bag."

According to Bush's scorecard, progress on eight of the 18 benchmarks set by Congress in May has been "satisfactory," on another eight it has been "unsatisfactory," and two are too close to call.

And this, according to the president, "is a cause for optimism."

That's like a doctor telling you that while your child has shiny hair he also has a brain tumor -- and you coming away thinking the doctor's report is "a mixed bag." That's insane. Trust me, if your kid has a brain tumor, the fact that he has nice hair or is a good speller or has made progress towards playing well with others is not going to even things out and leave you feeling upbeat and optimistic.

As expected, the president asked for more time, said the military had achieved "great things," and blamed the rising unpopularity of the war on "war fatigue." That and restless leg syndrome.

The American people are tired -- of the endless lies the president continues to feed us on the war.

The biggest of these lies remains the assertion that we are fighting the terrorists in Iraq to keep from having to fight them here at home. The president today again claimed that one of the reasons we must press on (and on and on) in Iraq is because if we leave we'll "let Al Qaida gain safe haven."

This is shameless, coming the day after a leaked threat assessment from a National Intelligence Estimate concluded that al-Qaeda is "better positioned to strike the West" than at any time since 9/11.

And this is because al-Qaeda has enjoyed a "safe haven" in Pakistan. Not Iraq, Mr. President, Pakistan. One of our supposed allies in the global war on terror. So, please, enough of the endless fearmongering drivel about how the folks blowing up people in Iraq are the same ones who attacked us on 9/11.

The threat of terror attacks in America is certainly a real one (just ask your Homeland Security director's gut); but the war in Iraq is not making us safer. It is making us categorically less safe.

One last thing. The President also made the claim that "there is a convergence of visions between what Iraqi leaders want... and the vision articulated by my administration." Oh, really? Tell that to the majority of the members of the Iraqi parliament who in May, by signing a legislative petition, rejected the ongoing occupation of their country by U.S. forces. Mr. Bush must also have missed the recent poll showing that only 22 percent of Iraqis support the presence of coalition troops in their country.

In June, the White House labeled progress in Iraq a mixed bag. They say it's a mixed bag now. Does anyone doubt that it will still be a mixed bag in September or December or April 2008 or as long as Mr. Bush is in the White House?

We need to face up to the brain tumor, Mr. President. And we need to do it now.