President Bush seems to think that when he’s in another country his words can’t be heard. Kind of like when a kid plays peek-a-boo, I guess.

So when on his recent trip to Australia he told Deputy Prime Minister Mark Vaile “We’re kicking ass!”, he seemed to forget that he’d been downplaying any such comments until General David Howell Petraeus delivers his report in less than two weeks. This report, by the way, will not just contain the words of Petraeus, it will also have White House language and influence. No surprise, of course.*

And while it will point to some hard-fought goals that have been met, it will most likely downplay what isn’t working – and the unfortunate political ramifications of even our “successful” policies. And it will most likely miss the point of the goals themselves being chosen not for their real value to ending conflict in that region and keeping us safe, but for their likelihood to be achieved – so they can be pointed to by our President as evidence of the value of his own policies. Easier to look good if you choose your own criteria for measurement and also control the evaluation.

That said, Petraeus is no lightweight. He’s an extremely bright man known to be a straight talker – but then so was Colin Powell. The White House has a way of taking even the best and turning them to their advantage. It is politics after all.

Today I was listening to one of my favorite radio shows, Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me! and they mentioned Bush’s “kicking ass” statement. One of the panelists added that he was jumping the gun, since Petraeus still hadn’t delivered his report. The host, Peter Sagal, said this was like waiting for Edgar Bergen to hear what Charlie McCarthy would say. (For those who don’t remember, Edgar Bergen was a ventriloquist and Charlie McCarthy was his dummy.)

Now Petraeus is no dummy for sure. But he also works for Bergen…I mean Bush. And Bush needs to keep the war going for a little longer, so no matter what Pertraeus found in Iraq, the words will come out in a way that does what the administration needs. And some people are saying what it needs is to keep the troops there long enough to give the Republicans a chance to do whatever they can to keep the White House in their hands.

And those hands want to keep us there continuing to run the show while yelling at the Iraqi government for not doing a better job of showing their independence! Meanwhile we have our eyes on the real prize. Privatizing oil. Building permanent bases – the same kind that so offends the people of the region. Maybe even with eyes toward Iran.

And if we let this happen without letting our voices be heard – wait…wait…don’t tell me – then we’re the real dummies!

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The report that Bush has been referring to as General Petraeus’ report is  actually the President’s own 2nd progress report due September 15, 2007 as mandated by Congressional legislation. Kinda like getting someone else to do his homework, I guess. Only by saying it’s the General’s report, it makes it look more independent.  Which, of course, it isn’t.