It’s sort of funny watching conservatives whipping themselves up over the quick demise of the Bush Doctrine (b. Oct. 2001 – d. March 2002). But it was our doctrine, you hear them saying. (Try to see Kate O’Beirne on the replay of Capital Gang.) Just as, I suppose, some right-wingers fixed upon the war on terrorism as their own fast track to becoming latter-day Orwells (those essays on totalitarianism really are good!), many more saw it as normal or just, well, fair that if we’re going to have a war we get a doctrine too! We’ve got a tax cut; we’ve got a war; we’ve got a doctrine; and now even a bracing, realist literature!
It really was all a bit precious. Too bad there was little sense that the doctrine had to make sense or be enforceable or simply have someone in the White House who had thought through its implications.
Now the White House is being reduced to the most mortifying, dignity-busting expedients like distancing itself from the president’s own Secretary of State — surely a great moment for the responsibility era. Is Colin Powell really just freelancing? If the president doesn’t like what he’s doing he really does have the authority to request he return to the United States.
To say that the administration’s current policy is incoherent really is something of an understatement. Either the president — or someone on his behalf — needs to retreive his manhood from that pickle jar in which it’s currently residing or stop issuing doctrines he’s incapable of following.