The only unequivocally good policy option before the American people is to dump the president who got us into this mess, who had no trouble sending our young people to Iraq but who cannot steel himself to face the Sept. 11 commission alone.
We have backed ourselves into a very narrow <$Ad$>and very bleak set of options here. What's astonishing is how blindly the White House seems to have stumbled into it.
I don't want to get into a silly conversation about who's 'responsible' for what's happening in the South or who 'caused' it in some deep sense. But we do seem to have triggered it -- by shutting down Sadr's newspaper and arresting his deputy.
One might argue that that was a proper strategy. Sometimes a looming crisis needs to be brought to a head. But if that's so, we seem to have done little to prepare for the reaction. Where's the White House's strategy? Where is it now, three days later?
All we seem to be hearing are hollow assertions of a vacant will.
From the White House's advocates we hear logic puzzles about appeasement in which the fall-out from the president's screw ups become the prime argument for continuing to support them.
At the critical moment the president has the toxic mix of the bulldog will of a Winston Churchill and the strategic insights and imagination of a Neville Chamberlain.
He has no plan. And will without policy just equals death.
The gap between the reality in Iraq and the White House's Potemkin village version of it is closing rapidly, like an upper and lower jaw about to shut tight. And the White House's penchant for denial is being squeezed between the two.