Those who hoped that -- with the victory of the antiwar party in 2006, the departure of Rumsfeld and the neocons from the Pentagon, the rise of Condi and the eclipse of Cheney -- America was headed out of Iraq got a rude awakening. They are about to get another.
Today, the United States has 30,000 more troops in Iraq than on the day America repudiated the Bush war policy and voted the GOP out of power. And President Bush, self-confidence surging, is now employing against Iran a bellicosity redolent of the days just prior to Operation Iraqi Freedom.
What gives Bush his new cockiness? The total collapse of the antiwar coalition on Capitol Hill and the breaking of the Congress.
Last spring, Bush vetoed the congressional deadlines for troop withdrawals, then rubbed Congress' nose in its defeat by demanding and getting $100 billion to support the surge and continue the war.
Before the August recess, Democrats broke again and voted to give Bush the warrantless wiretap authority many among them had said was an unconstitutional and impeachable usurpation of power. They are a broken and frightened lot.
Comes now evidence congressional Democrats have not only lost the pro-victory vote, but forfeited the peace vote, as well.
According to a Zogby poll the last week in August, just two weeks before Gen. Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker report, Americans, by 45 percent to 20 percent, give this Democratic Congress lower grades on handling the war than the Republican Congress it replaced.
Fifty-four percent of the nation believes, contra Harry Reid, the war is not lost. That is twice the support that Bush enjoys for his war leadership, a paltry 27 percent. But, by nine to one, Bush's leadership on the war is preferred to that of the Congress of Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid.
Incredibly, only 3 percent of the nation gives Congress a positive rating on its handling of the war. Congress has lost the hawks, and the owls, and the doves. No one trusts its leadership on the war.
And George W. smells it. He no longer fears the power of Congress, and his rhetoric suggests he is contemptuous of it. He is brimming with self-assurance that he can break any Democratic attempt to impose deadlines for troop withdrawal and force Congress to cough up all the funds he demands.
Confident of victory this fall on the Hill, Bush is now moving into Phase III in his War on Terror: First, Afghanistan, then Iraq, then Iran.
Do not take this writer's word for it. Hearken to the astonishing rhetoric Bush used at the American Legion Convention in Las Vegas against Tehran: