Barely over one month ago, President Bush made a pop-visit into Iraq, embraced Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki and repeatedly expressed how impressed he was with the Iraqi leader. Utterly impressed.
"I'm impressed by the cabinet that you've assembled....I'm impressed by the strength of your character and your desire to succeed. And I'm impressed by your strategy.... It's an impressive group of men and women."
As you can see, he was seriously impressed. And impressed.
So impressed that you almost expected him to put his arm around the Prime Minister and enthuse, "Heck of a job, Maliki."
Which, of course, as then during Katrina with Brownie, is the kiss of death.
A mere six weeks later, after telling the world how impressed he was, the President stood before the American people and said that the security situation in Baghdad was...
And that he was going to move 4,000 American soldiers into the city.
Watch out, Maliki, ol' buddy, you just know who they're going to blame next. Start putting together your resume. If there's anything about horses on it, you might want to leave that out.
"Terrible." This from a President who has optimistically used "turned the corner" so often that his head is spinning so much it's in risk of falling off.
This is moving in troops at a time when even many of the most hawkish supporters of the war have started acknowledging we might be cutting back troops just a wee bit. To try and save their political necks in November.
(Granted, this is just shuffling troops around who are already in Iraq. But in a perfect world, the White House would wish to be shuffling them home. Actually, that's not quite accurate: in a perfect world, George Bush would still be an owner of the Texas Rangers baseball team, called up for active duty in the Mideast with his National Guard unit.)
So, in a mere six weeks, the President went from "Impressed...impressed...impressed...impressed" to "Terrible." But the thing is, it's not just a huge leap, it's more than that.
It's that George Bush understood. He and the Iraq Prime Minister discussed everything - everything - and it was all spot on. It wasn't just that he was impressed. He understood. Everything.
"We discussed the security strategy. We discussed an economic strategy, a reconstruction strategy. And all of it makes sense to me."
Those were George Bush's own words just six weeks ago. "All of it makes sense to me."
Now, there are two possibilities here. Either the President didn't actually have a clue and understood nothing. Or the security strategy, economic strategy and reconstruction strategy were really, really bad - so bad as to collapse in a crushingly fast six weeks, yet even though they were that horrific, to the President they made sense.
In fairness, there's a third possibility, that the President was lying through his teeth in yet another effort to flimflam the American public into thinking that spending $1.5 billion each week on a disaster of monumental proportions was quite a good idea.
But it can't be that. After all, this President is a Good Man. A grass roots kind of guy some folks say they'd want to have a beer with, if he wasn't a recovering alcoholic. A guy who clears brush on his ranch, unless he has to quickly fly back to Washington to help save a brain-dead citizen. (There is no truth, as some claim, that this was professional courtesy.)
After all, this salt o' the earth, Texas-swaggering president told Mr. Maliki that he flew half-way around the world to "look you in the eye."
If George Bush can look a man in the eye, be impressed, impressed, impressed and impressed, and see how it all makes sense -
- then how in the world can this wonderful situation become "Terrible" in just six weeks?
Apparently, the eyes don't have it.
In the end, this is why it's generally considered A Good Thing to put some credence in reading, experts and the intellect, rather than just relying on one's gut when it comes to international affairs. After all, if you can't trust a guy's eyes, the gut is soon to follow.
Thank goodness at least the rest of the Middle East is going well.