How much does it cost? I'll buy it!

March 14, 2004

I saw some good news and some disturbing news in the Philadelphia Inquirer this morning. The good news is that the Iraqi economy seems to be improving - a necessary condition for political stability and a good thing in and of itself. The disturbing news is that the Bush administration continues to refuse to estimate the costs of further actions in Iraq. This continues their pattern of trying to keep the Iraq war outside the budget, funded by special appropriations and without the usual layers of planning and tradeoffs.

I can see why they want to avoid places where congress might do to them what Wilbur Mills did to Lyndon Johnson, forcing a President to choose between domestic policies and a war, but it is a disturbing pattern. It suggests that the Bush administration believes that the American people do not care enough about the Iraqi front in the War on Terror to pay the costs of the war. And yet, they are doing it anyhow. This is either an act of bold leadership, or it is a disavowal of the democratic principle, depending on how you want to spin things.

What I find disturbing is that it is part of a continuing pattern where the Bush administration speaks loudly about the War on Terror when needed to pass a policy or achieve something that it wants, but it does not take the further steps that would go along with a real war. It has aspects of a phony war, a sitzkrieg, with lots of words, limited conflict, and a domestic front that moves along as if nothing was happening. One could argue that a normal life at home is victory in a war on terror, but I remain troubled by their unwillingness to enact domestic economic and financial policies that correspond with their rhetoric about international events.

"Do or do not", sez Yoda, and yet I fear we are seeing a bit of "Do be do be do" from the White House.

Posted by Red Ted at March 14, 2004 01:09 AM | TrackBack