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For Bush, Iraq is only about controlling messages and smearing opponents

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The NY Times has an article about how Bush's trip to Asia has been all about Iraq -- much to the surprise and chagrin of his hosts. What has is very clear from that article is that for the Bush team, Iraq is all about the messages, speeches and smears of their opponents. That's their whole strategy, instead of figuring out how to actually succeed on the ground in Iraq. They view success by how they can control the message in America:

Three times so far since Mr. Bush left Washington on Monday, the White House has also issued detailed rebuttals on Iraq issues under the rubric "Setting the Record Straight." One was devoted to answering an editorial in The New York Times on prewar intelligence, and two others responded to Democratic critics, quoting their own words about Iraq back to them, arguing that they, too, had believed Saddam Hussein possessed illicit weapons.

Talking to reporters on Thursday, Dan Bartlett, the counselor to the president who has played a central role in drafting many of the Iraq messages, said that Mr. Bush's decision to fight back - chiefly on the question of how he had used prewar intelligence - arose after he became concerned the debate was now at a tipping point.
We passed the real tipping point in Iraq a long time ago. Bush and Cheney are too concerned with the politics of Iraq to worry about the thousands of dead troops. They actually think they win if the get their message out and if they are smearing opponents of the war.

All they have is a political strategy. And they wonder why the American people don't trust Bush anymore.

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