Folks, all indicators suggest that it's going to happen anyway--the Decider wants to be the Decided--so we might as well lay down some markers in advance. I submit the following as conditions (in no particular order) that need to be agreed upon before Bush starts sending in more troops:
1) At least one of the Bush twins needs to sign up for military service. They are able-bodied, and they apparently have some discretionary time on their hands. It doesn't matter whether they get stateside or some paper-pushing detail, as long as they volunteer to serve their country in a time of war. The larger point is that President Bush needs to be able to explain and convince one of his own family members that his mission in Iraq is absolutely noble and necessary before he will have any credibility with other parents and family members (deeds, not words). Come January, can he really look the American public in the eye (through the TV camera lens) and avoid the issue about whether Jenna and Barbara will be gallivanting in Argentina while more of their peers are being shot and maimed in Iraq at their Daddy's behest? Advance memo to the press: Will somebody please ask the President a direct question about whether he has asked his own family to share in the national sacrifice? Note to Bill O'Reilly: Please ask Jenna and Barbara Bush: Yes or no, do you want victory in Iraq? Follow-up: What are you going to do about it?
2) Pay as you go. No more deficit spending to pay for this calamity, no more gluttonous giveaways to the rich. If this war is so damn important for future generations, then stop mortgaging their future to pay for it. What will this mean for Bush? Read Pappy Bush's lips: taxes. That would be a bitter pill to swallow for Junior. But Pappy was man enough to make that call. Suck it up, Junior. It's your war: put your money where your mouth is.
3) Cut, cut, cut domestic oil consumption. Engage in an all-out national campaign to reduce our reliance on foreign oil so that we can stop sponsoring both sides of this conflict. In fact, send all of the Hummers on our streets over to Iraq (after retrofitting them with the proper armor, of course--shouldn't take too much pimping, though).
4) Cut the PR crap. Don't call it, for instance, Shock and Awe, Part II.
5) No more no-bid contracts. Better yet: no Halliburton contracts.
6) Lose the pretense that we are supported by a "Coalition of the Willing."
7) Support the troops by giving them proper and sufficient equipment.
8) Support the vets by giving them proper and sufficient medical care and educational opportunities.
9) Honor and acknowledge the dead. The public should understand the full costs of this war, and mourn accordingly. At the very least, release the pictures of the caskets. That doesn't diminish the dignity or gravity of the deaths of these fallen soldiers. Sweeping them under the rug, as it were, is a national shame.
10) Repudiate all long-term designs on the U.S. military bases in Iraq--and on Iraqi oil. Make it crystal clear that our ultimate goal is not simply "troop reduction" but to extricate ourselves from Iraq altogether.
11) Establish an Executive Branch moratorium on all golfing, hunting, and celebrity bicycling junkets during a time of war. (That shouldn't be such a HUGE personal sacrifice, would it?)
12) Finally, give us not just a frat-boy pep talk about the importance of achieving victory, but give us a clear exit strategy (déjà vu all over again). Envisioning victory in advance is not as important, this time around, as being able to identify what will constitute failure. Let's at least insist on a firm timetable for this second go-around: the 2008 elections. Leaving Iraq and losing Iraq should be on George W. Bush's clock, and no one else's.