Letters from the Center
Wednesday, July 06, 2005
  Power Line - A blast from the past and an omen for the future?

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: Re: A blast from the past and an omen for the future?
Date: Wed, 06 Jul 2005 22:18:36 -0700
From: David Barrett <dbarrett@quinthar.com>
To: Power Line <powerlinefeedback@gmail.com>

I agree with you the democrats haven't made a clear case for Bush's
supposed "incompetency" in Iraq. I find that people very confidently
and casually assert this "fact" and then find themselves unable to
justify it when pressed.

However, I hope you agree that to a casual observer, based on the news
we receive from mainstream sources, it's not hard to come to this
conclusion -- even if not true. I think the general assertions of
incompetence come down to:

1) Disbanding the Iraqi army. Personally, I think this was a hard call,
seemed like a good idea at the time, and might even have been the right
decision. It's impossible to tell, even with hindsight. But there's no
denying that the downside of this move is suddenly unemploying a huge
volume of armed soldiers, and this is unfortunate at best, or some might
say "incompetent" at worst.

2) Calling "Mission Accomplished" well before the mission was anywhere
near accomplished. Now I suppose you could argue the "mission" was
merely toppling Saddam, and thus this was legit. But to many observers,
this was a sign of absurd overconfidence, and signalled an "incompetent"
presumption that it would be smooth sailing henceforth.

3) Trusting the Nigerian uranium cake stories. This went to the highest
levels of the Bush administration -- including Colin Powell's address to
the United Nations -- and now it appears that the documents are obvious
forgeries. Though some might claim this was part of a campaign to "fix"
the evidence (to use the terminology of the "Downing Sreet Memos"),
others might merely assert this fits a pattern of incompetence.

4) The armor-for-troops issue. It's hard for me to understand why we've
had such trouble outfitting our troops and equipment with decent armor
when we're spending such enormous sums of money on the war. This is
further complicated by assertions (at the time) by the manufacturers of
the armor that they have extra capacity that the Pentagon hasn't
requested. If this is true, it could be a sign that the Pentagon and
its civilian leadership were incompetent in the logistics of equipping
our troops.

And these are only the first four that came to mind. I don't mean to
defend the assertions of incompetence. But I do mean to counter your
blaise response to such assertions. I'd prefer that you (and frankly,
the Bush administration) recognize that mistakes have been made, and
counter that these mistakes were simply unavoidable. Facing up to the
bad news builds our confidence when you assert there is good news --
especially good news that is too secret or complicated to detail.

But by categorically denying or ignoring accusations of mistakes, and
then attacking anyone that suggests such a thing, you contribute to an
overall perception that you (and by extension, the Bush administration)
are out of touch with reality.

Strong leaders don't hide from the truth, because they know that on
balance, the truth is on their side.


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I'm what you might call a "radical centrist" and these are my letters to bloggers, journalists, and politicians -- left, right, and center -- where I implore them to pull away from the edges and back to the mainstream. Come read if you like, but I'll keep writing either way.

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David Barrett
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