President George W. Bush's poll numbers -- even among Republicans who are happy about tax cuts and the judicial appointments -- scream trouble. Trace the dismal numbers to three things -- the war in Iraq, spending, and Bush's perceived soft stance on illegal aliens.
Let's go over them.
As to the war in Iraq, the Bush administration argues that mainstream media ignores good news and focuses on the bad. General Barry McCaffrey, who worked as a division commander in the first Persian Gulf War before becoming President Clinton's drug czar, recently returned from Iraq. McCaffrey reported his findings in a memo to his West Point colleagues.
McCaffrey wrote, "The Iraqi army is real, growing, and willing to fight. They now have lead action of a huge and rapidly expanding area and population. The battalion level formations are in many cases excellent -- most are adequate … This is simply a brilliant success story. We need at least two to five more years of U.S. partnership and combat backup to get the Iraqi Army ready to stand on its own. The interpersonal relationships between Iraqi Army units and their U.S. trainers are very positive and genuine."
McCaffrey pointed out many problems, including: The Iraqi Army is "very badly equipped with only a few light vehicles, small arms, most with body armor and one or two uniforms." "… The corruption and lack of capability of the [Iraqi] ministries will require several years of patient coaching and officer education in values as well as the required competencies." "… The U.S. Inter-Agency Support for our strategy in Iraq is grossly inadequate." However, McCaffrey concluded, "There is no reason why the U.S. cannot achieve our objectives in Iraq. Our aim must be to create a viable federal state under the rule of law which does not: enslave its own people, threaten its neighbors, or produce weapons of mass destruction. "
A big reason that many turned sour on the war rests on the preposterous assumption that "Bush lied, people died." Remember the near unanimity with which experts believed that Saddam Hussein possessed stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons, and that he intended to pursue the development of a nuclear bomb. Even former President Bill Clinton, on "Larry King Live," four months after the coalition troops entered Iraq, said, "[I]t is incontestable that on the day I left office, there were unaccounted for stocks of biological and chemical weapons. We might have destroyed them in '98. We tried to, but we sure as heck didn't know it because we never got to go back in there."
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