What did you think of President Bush's latest Iraq speech? 

Don't Panic ... your war questions answered

In September 2003, after kissing a muscular English dude named Madonna on the lips at the MTV Video Music Awards, Britney Spears went on CNN and gave a shout-out to President Bush.

"I think we should just trust our president in every decision he makes and should just support that, you know, and be faithful in what happens."

President Bush appreciated Spears' kind gesture so much that, last week, he returned it.

Last Thursday, the president delivered a speech so bad, it diverted media attention from Spears' appalling performance at the '07 VMAs four days earlier.

It was the worst speech of his presidency.

"Worst speech of Bush's presidency" is not a label to be applied without thought and care. After all, we're talking about a man who once greeted an Iraqi dissident at the White House by telling reporters, "I'm honored to shake the hand of a brave Iraqi citizen who had his hand cut off by Saddam Hussein."

Last Thursday's speech was a new low because – at a moment when the nation hungers for honesty and rational thinking – President Bush offered delusions and partisan gibberish.

Let's go to the videotape:

"Terrorists and extremists who are at war with us around the world are seeking to topple Iraq's government, dominate the region and attack us here at home."

The vast majority of the violence in Iraq is, in fact, between Iraqi religious sects fighting over who will dominate Iraq. Al-Qaeda is indeed part of the violent mix. But if al-Qaeda disappeared tomorrow, the fight between Iraq's Shiite and Sunni Arabs would continue.

"This ally [Iraq] has placed its trust in the United States."

Iraqis didn't place trust in us. Bush placed us in Iraq. There's a slight difference.

"Today, most of Baghdad's neighborhoods are being patrolled by coalition and Iraqi forces who live among the people they protect. Many schools and markets are reopening. Citizens are coming forward with vital intelligence. Sectarian killings are down. And ordinary life is beginning to return."

Even the rosy reports claiming violence is down from its presurge peak don't claim ordinary life is returning. Millions of Iraqis have up and left their homes. Where sectarian killing is down, it's in large part because members of the minority sect are dead or gone. President Bush is essentially touting ethnic cleansing as a success.

"Because of this success, Gen. Petraeus believes we have now reached the point where we can maintain our security gains with fewer American forces ... by July, we will be able to reduce our troop levels in Iraq from 20 combat brigades to 15."

The "surge" President Bush announced in January consisted of sending five additional brigades to Iraq on a 15-month tour. The troop-level reduction President Bush touts as a "return on success" is actually just the end of the 15-month tour. The United States has run out of ready combat brigades.

"A free Iraq will deny al-Qaeda a safe haven. A free Iraq will counter the destructive ambitions of Iran."

As a matter of fact, so did the unfree Iraq of Saddam Hussein. Your toppling of his regime without a suitable plan for the aftermath opened up Iraq for al-Qaeda and Iran.

"Americans want our country to be safe and our troops to begin coming home from Iraq. Yet those of us who believe success in Iraq is essential to our security, and those who believe we should begin bringing our troops home, have been at odds."

No speech about Iraq is complete without some attempt to smear domestic opponents of his war policy.

In this instance, Bush divides the American people into two sects: the ones worried about U.S. security, and everyone else. Never mind the fact that Iraq's collapse was his administration's doing.

"Whatever political party you belong to, whatever your position on Iraq, we should be able to agree that America has a vital interest in preventing chaos and providing hope in the Middle East."

That might be less insulting if it wasn't coming from a man whose policies have done nothing but nurture chaos and smother hope.

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