GADFLY: Defeatist-in-Chief 

In the aftermath of the GOP attacks on Murtha and Dean, let's not forget who first told us the war couldn't be won.

Did you notice the great hue and cry emitted by the administration and its shills when Howard Dean announced his view that the war in Iraq was probably unwinnable.  The RNC immediately posted its  “Retreat and Defeat” ad, superimposing a waving white flag over a larger than life picture of Chairman Dean.

The administration's attack dogs followed up with the likes of Tony Blankley, the British ex-pat, former Gingrich slash-and-burn expert and current Moonie disciple, comparing Dean's statement to a pre-civil war slaveholder, who, in the guise of wanting what was best for his slaves, kept them nonetheless.  And, of course, the administration and its messengers continue to marginalize Congressman Murtha for his call to pull U.S. troops out of Iraq “with all deliberate speed,” including Senator McCain's criticism that Murtha isn't a “big thinker,” and has become “too emotional,” about the war.  Would McCain, I wonder, accept the same criticism of his impassioned campaign to outlaw torture, or, indeed, of his famously emotional display of support for GWB?

But, the most interesting thing about this “winnability” issue is that Bush himself, in one of his unguarded, un-ventriloquized moments, stated his belief that the war can't be won.  For those of you who've forgotten, let me remind you that when GWB was campaigning to fool us again in '04, he gave an interview to Matt Lauer of NBC “Today Show” fame in which he said the war on terror couldn't be won. It was probably the most honest thing that man has ever said.  He was referring, of course, to the “war on terror,” for which, as we know, the war in Iraq is the “central front.” He tried to take back his words subsequently, after his handlers told him what a bad thing candor is (something he has diligently avoided since), but by then the damage had been done. 

The fact is, no one in a position to know thinks this war can be won militarily, not the people closest to the people fighting the war (e.g., Murtha), or the people who have devoted the most careful analysis to the question (e.g., General William Odom), and all the bullying, insulting and political posturing to the contrary won't change that fact.

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