Image from Steve Gilliard.
So tonight the Boy Shah is going to tell us, again, how he is going to win a war he never should have started in Iraq.
My guess is that the speech will be just transient noise. I'll be curious to learn just how large his audience is. My intuitive sense is that most people have simply tuned the guy out. They hope they sent him a message in November; they hope maybe the new Congress can help get the country back on an even keel; they don't want to listen to GWB any more and they don't assume he is capable of saying anything that will make a difference in Iraq. (Polling seems to support the last point; roughly 56 percent of us don't think the President is able to change the course of events in Iraq.) One way to begin to measure this is whether more people actually watch tonight's performance than tend to watch the State of the Union speech. Last year commentators guessed the latter number was around one third of Americans. Wonder if he'll reach that percentage tonight?
This exactly echoes what we were told by a local diplomatic observer in Jordan last summer. Apparently it takes getting close up for many Westerners to realize that Iraqis are sophisticated adults who can run their own country. Actually, that seems to be indicated by GWB's periodic replacement of his commissars in Baghdad: every time a new batch begins to understand the country at all, they have to be removed so Bush can continue to try to impose his fantasy.