Newsweek Columnist: At Least LBJ Was Heartbroken by Body Bags, Unlike Bush

Anna Quindlen hasn't been a New York Times columnist for more than a decade, but she'd still fit in quite well on her old paper's op-ed page. In her opinion piece for the October 31 Newsweek, Quindlen takes up the inclination to psychoanalyze President Bush from one current Times columnist, Maureen Dowd, and the Iraq-is-Vietnam argument from another, Frank Rich.

Early in the column, Quindlen asserts that the Bush administration's Iraq policy

became a moving target. First there were weapons of mass destruction that were not there and direct links to the terrorists who attacked on September 11 that didn't exist. The removal of Saddam Hussein was given as the greatest good; it has been done. Then it became the amorphous goal of bringing freedom to the Iraqi people, as though liberty were flowers and we were FTD. The elections, the constitution, the rubble, the dead.

Then, the paragraph's Vietnam payoff: "Once again we were destroying the village in order to save it."

Two graphs later, Quindlen makes the comparison explicit:

The Vietnam Memorial stands, in part, as a monument to blind incrementalism, to men who refused to stop, not because of wisdom but because of ego, because of the fear of looking weak. Not enough troops, not enough planning, no real understanding of the people or the power of the insurgency, dwindling public support. The war in Iraq is a disaster in the image and likeness of its predecessor.

Quindlen's Dowd-like musings come in the column's second half. For example:

Does anyone doubt that the continued prosecution of this war has to do with the personality of the commander in chief, a man who is stubborn and calls it strength, who wears blinders and calls it vision?

And her closing paragraph begins with this jaw-droppingly nasty contrast: "At least [Lyndon] Johnson had the good sense to be heartbroken by the body bags. Bush appears merely peevish at being criticized."

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