"Victory has a thousand fathers," John F. Kennedy reportedly said, "but defeat is an orphan."
By that standard, George W. Bush has won the Iraq war.
Last month, Vice President Joe Biden proclaimed on CNN's "Larry King Live" that the peaceful transition to democracy and the (partial) withdrawal of U.S. forces "could be one of the great achievements of this administration."
Initially, I ignored Biden's comment because, well, he's Joe Biden. As critical as I may be of the Obama administration, holding it accountable for Biden's mouth seems grotesquely unfair.
But then White House spokesman Robert Gibbs defended the vice president, suggesting that it was Obama who put Iraq "back together" and worked out bringing American troops home. More on that in a moment.
Then, just this week, Newsweek, which spent years ridiculing Bush, came out with a cover story titled "Victory at Last: The Emergence of a Democratic Iraq," in which the authors grudgingly and tentatively credit Bush with creating a democratic Iraq.
No word yet on whether Michael Moore will publicly cut off some fingers, like a failed Yakuza henchman, to atone for his misdeeds.
The Newsweek story might indeed be premature, as recent upticks in Iraq violence demonstrate that nobody's out of the woods yet. From what I can tell, there may be a rough summer ahead if a new government can't be formed quickly. There almost certainly will be more bombings during this weekend's elections and beyond.
Still, when the Obama administration starts taking credit for success in Iraq, you know things have changed for the better. Now, of course, it is a grotesque distortion of logic and even political decency for the White House to be taking credit for victory in Iraq.
Obama wouldn't be president today if he hadn't opposed the war. His opposition is what best distinguished him from Hillary Clinton in the primaries. Obama also opposed Bush's surge, which turned Iraq around. He and Biden both claimed that it would actually make things worse. "I am not persuaded that 20,000 additional troops in Iraq is going to solve the sectarian violence," then-Sen. Obama declared in January 2007. "In fact, I think it will do the reverse."
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