Friday, March 24
President Bush this week embarked on what has become a seasonal routine: His poll numbers dive from the realities of the Iraq war, and he orders speaking engagements in front of sympathetic crowds to cheer up his ratings. Unfortunately, the energy wasted on public relations would be better spent fixing the problems in Iraq not the perception of those problems.

This week the president anointed himself the "educator-in-chief" as he repeated his message at different venues from West Virginia to Ohio. His one challenging audience this week was the White House press corps with whom he staged an impromptu conference, and even called on a strong opponent of his policies, columnist Helen Thomas.

While the president is on a public relations tour, the struggling Iraqi government is caught in a rut, unable to decide on its makeup, which leaves a vacuum in that country filled by sectarian warfare and terrorist bombings. Senator Carl Levin, Democrat of Michigan, was on a Senate mission this week politicking in Iraq, a job the president should be doing. Sure, Bush says from the comfort of the White House that Iraqi leaders need to buckle down and take charge, but the message is more certain to reach them in a face-to-face meeting.

But the most obvious problem for the president, revealed every time he stumps, is that he shows no sign of admitting major blunders and is committed to staying the course; this round he's staying the course on staying the course.


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He beams with confidence that the United States will win in Iraq, but all his people that led the country into this war and got it wrong are still in charge or they have received medals for their poor judgment. How is America supposed to be confident in the same poor leadership circle that's already failed us?

And the president is not only sticking to the same brain trust, he's also sticking to the same strategies. Recently, the White House released its new National Security Strategy, which looks an awful lot like the old strategy that belly-flopped the nation into Iraq; no finesse; no intelligence. The new strategy also commits the nation to a failed policy of pre-emptive war powers meant to put nations, such as Iran, on notice and to reverse course on nuclear development, but a pre-emptive threat will only hasten nations, such as North Korea, to build nuclear weapons to stave off attack.

President Bush has blown it and absurdly he's prepared to blow it again.