SO, THE PRESIDENT isn't happy with how the war in Iraq is going.
This week, he said, "I know many Americans are not satisfied with the situation in Iraq; I'm not satisfied, either." Welcome to the club, Mr. President.
For years, Americans haven't been satisfied with how the war was being executed. For years, frustration has been boiling up as it became clear that all the reasons we were given for going to war were just not true. For years, Mr. Bush didn't give a darn, calling those who questioned the war "defeatists" and repeating that we were going to "stay the course." Now, with his congressional majority on the line, he's flipped.
Great to have you aboard, sir.
Unfortunately, he's still woefully out of touch. And it's not just with American civilians anymore. Now, his own troops are revolting against him and his policy. At the same time the president was feigning dissatisfaction with the war, a group of troops in Iraq began a formal process to call on the government to leave the warzone.
At www.appealforredress.org, hundreds of U.S. troops serving in Iraq are signing a petition to Congress, calling on the government to bring the troops home.
The language is simple: "As a patriotic American proud to serve the nation in uniform, I respectfully urge my political leaders in Congress to support the prompt withdrawal of all American military forces and bases from Iraq. Staying in Iraq will not work and is not worth the price. It is time for U.S. troops to come home."
This is the first time in history that our men and women at war have organized an effort to end operations. The facts are certainly on their side. More than 44,000 troops were physically injured in Iraq, with 1 in 3 expected to come back with mental trauma. Thousands have died.
Iraq is no closer to a stable democracy than the day we launched this war, and, if anything, it's less stable and heading deeper into civil war. And President Bush, who envisioned himself a modern-day FDR, complete with the love and admiration of the troops, is now becoming more hated among the ranks than LBJ and Richard Nixon were among the troops in Vietnam.
Vietnam-era troops waited until they came home to protest the war. Iraq troops feel they can't wait that long. U.S. troops are the toughest in the world, and they don't shrink from a tough fight - ever. The only reason they would demand a redeployment is if they see that a fight isn't worth the cost strategically.
Yet Mr. Bush refuses to heed their advice and promises to see this fight to the end that will never come. That's not to say Mr. Bush will never change his mind. This week, faced with an electoral revolt, he changed his statements on how the war was going. Perhaps when the members of the military are on the brink of a mass revolt against the civilian leadership in Washington, he will also change his tone.
Until then, his obstinacy continues to lead to the greatest of all ironies. In a war that was supposed to win the hearts and minds of the Iraqis, all that has been accomplished is losing the hearts and minds of those sent to fight the battle.
Flavia Colgan is a member of the Daily News editorial board and an MSNBC commentator. Her blog is CitizenHunter, at www.citizenhunter.com.