In his speech on Thursday night, Bush did the expected -
He tried to spin a previously-planned troop rotation as a reduction in troop levels as "return on success";
He tried to spin a return to the pre-surge status quo (130,000 troops in Iraq) as a real improvement;
He tried to spin the entire war as a fight against terrorism, citing the threat of al-Qaeda, and organization that had no presence in Iraq prior to his invasion of it; and
He tried to spin the long-term occupation of Iraq as an "enduring relationship" requested by the Iraqis themselves.
In short, all he's doing is to guarantee that his successor, whoever that may be, will have the biggest, bloodiest, nastiest mess possible to clean up when he or she takes office in January, 2009.
He may even be hoping that a Democrat wins next year. Whoever has to clean this up is going to end up facing some serious criticism over whatever they do or don't do, which will just make it that much tougher to win re-election in 2012.
Text of the President's speech here.
Text of Sen. Jack Reed's (D-RI) Democratic response here.
BBC coverage of the speech here.
In March, I wrote that while I had previously thought that perhaps a U.S. presence in Iraq was justified under the principle of "we broke, we fix it," but that the Bushies had shown neither ability nor even inclination to actually rebuild Iraq, and therefore we should just withdraw.
Nothing has changed other than the growing number of casualties.
It's long past time for the Democrats in both chambers of Congress to grow a spine and force Bush to bring home the troops, and to do so before the end of his term.
Speak, write, or call your Congresscritters, folks. Let 'em know how you feel on this.