I've written quite a lot over the last five-and-a-half years about people who've suffered because of the War on Terror™.
It turns out I've neglected to tell the story of the biggest sufferer of all: President George W. Bush.
"No one suffers more than their president and I do when we watch this."
So said Laura Bush last month on NBC's "Today Show," describing the pain she and President Bush feel when they watch news coverage of the War on Terror™.
How much is the president suffering?
Last week he quit his job.
Not the whole job. He's still gonna give speeches, sign legislation, live in the White House, fly around on Air Force One and park his pickup truck in front of the "Parking for Presidents Only" sign that Jenna bought him for the driveway in Crawford.
Bush quit the "lead the nation's war effort" part of his job. He announced last week that he's handing that responsibility over to U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Douglas Lute.
The commander in grief has appointed Lute to fill the newly created position "assistant to the president and deputy national security adviser for Iraq and Afghanistan policy." His job will be to coordinate the efforts of the secretaries of defense and state in the War on Terror™. Bush calls Lute "a tremendously accomplished military leader who understands war and government and knows how to get things done."
Overseeing and coordinating the activities of the secretaries of defense and state in pursuit of U.S. policy goals is an enormously important task. It's so important, in fact, that Article 2 of the U.S. Constitution assigns the job to someone very important – the president.
President Bush is abdicating that responsibility and replacing himself with a war czar.
Hail to the Czar.
I wish Czar Douglas all the best in his new position. Leading the United States out of the mess President Bush led it into is the nation's most pressing foreign-policy concern. Cheers to President Bush for putting someone in charge who "understands war and government," and for finally admitting he doesn't.
Lute has a monumental task ahead of him. His chances for success are small. Presidents only appoint czars to address problems they themselves have proven unable to lick. Despite the authority vested in him by outgoing President Bush, Czar Douglas will have a heckuva time steering secretaries Rice and Gates in directions they don't want to go. If President Bush can't get them working together to his satisfaction, there isn't a snowball's chance in Falluja that a mere general's gonna do it – czar or not.
As far as I can recall, every presidential policy czar thus far has failed.
Presidents Nixon, Ford and Carter each appointed energy czars whose job it was to wean the United States off of imported oil. They failed.
The first President Bush appointed Czar William Bennett to lead the War on Drugs. Drugs won.
In 2005, President Bush appointed Donald Powell to serve as Hurricane Katrina recovery czar. Need I say more?
To find a czar who actually achieved an important national objective, one has to look to the other side of the globe and 300 years back in time, to the reign of Russia's Peter the Great.
Czar Pete expanded and modernized the Russian Empire. He grew its industry, remade its infrastructure and actually banned eight letters from the Russian alphabet because he deemed them superfluous. That dude was Czar with a silent capital "C." In this czar-watcher's opinion, he was the best ever.
The only other truly successful czar I can think of is Catherine the Great. In 1784, Catherine captured the Crimean peninsula for Russia – fulfilling the late Peter's ambition of possessing a warm-water port.
Catherine also inspired one of history's great myths, namely that she died in 1796 after being crushed during a maneuver politely described ... as an equine-human erotic inversion.
Top that, Doug.
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