The Vietraq War


Hell, no, we won’t go.

3rd Battalion, 1st Battalion
Phuoc Vinh and the Diyala River Valley, 40 years apart.

Speaking to veterans sure not to boo the president, George W. Bush‘s handlers have launched a new offensive in the Vietnam War, which has been over for 30 years.

Offensive is right. In essence, if you take a look at our soldiers patrolling in Phuoc Vinh, Vietnam, in 1967-68 and in Iraq’s Diyala River Valley in August 2007, Bush is telling 21st century America: “Phuoc you.”

It’s now the Vietraq War. Forty years ago, we were telling a president, “Hell, no, we won’t go!” Now we have a president telling us, “Hell, no, we won’t go!” Even though Iraq’s prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, who really has no choice if he wants to keep his job and his life, is telling us, “Go.”

Over here, we’d better run for cover, because we’re likely to hear this rat-a-tat-tat from Bush for awhile. Dick Cheney‘s regime launched this new war Wednesday in Kansas City at the Veterans of Foreign Wars convention, having Bush say:

Here at home, some can argue our withdrawal from Vietnam carried no price to American credibility — but the terrorists see it differently.

Bush’s handlers plan more of the same next week at the American Legion gathering in Reno. As Maura Reynolds and James Gerstenzang reported this morning in the L.A. Times:

Aides said the president felt it was necessary to revamp his message in the weeks before Army Gen. David H. Petraeus delivers a progress report that Congress mandated.

White House counselor Ed Gillespie and Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove worked with the president on the speech. There was a sense in the White House that the president’s rhetoric on Iraq, though consistent, was also becoming somewhat repetitive.

“The repetition is necessary and by design,” White House communications director Kevin Sullivan said in an interview, adding that the language is usually fresh to every new audience. “However, the president was aware of wanting to set the table for the upcoming report and the discussion that will follow it in a new way that was both compelling and illustrative. We’ve done this work before, and it was beneficial to the American people.”

Both speeches were planned for veterans groups, guaranteeing that audiences would respond enthusiastically to the president’s calls to support the troops. On Wednesday, VFW members repeatedly interrupted Bush’s speech with applause and standing ovations.

Rove, whose name (as I’ve pointed out) doesn’t rhyme with “dove,” will go hunting for real doves when he leaves the White House at the end of the month. But he’s still on patrol in the West Wing, and we’re his pigeons.

All the propaganda isn’t coming from the White House. We already knew that, but here’s fresh proof. While the excellent McClatchy D.C. Bureau (formerly the Knight-Ridder Washington Bureau), headlined its story “Bush Steps up Sales Push to Sustain His Surge in Iraq” (accurately depicting Bush as the regime’s salesman), the L.A. Times story carries the softer headline “Bush Has a New Angle on Iraq Debate” (not really accurate because it’s his handlers’ angle). And the POTUS-pushers didn’t write the L.A. Times‘s sub-headline:

In anticipation of progress report, the president is addressing veterans groups and setting up new effort to cast war in historical light.

Even the White House’s Kevin Sullivan didn’t use the adjective “progress.” But newspapers and TV are already calling the upcoming Petraeus report, which will be written by the White House, a “progress report.” Considering the debacle that is Iraq, how about just calling it a “report” and mentioning that it will be written by the White House?

Instead we’ll be inundated in the next couple of weeks — before the report is released on super-jingoistic 9/11 Day — with the words “progress” and “Vietnam.” Those words never did quite fit together when JFK, LBJ, and Nixon used them.