ThinkFast: March 19, 2008


“At the outset of the Iraq war, the Bush administration predicted that it would cost $50 billion to $60 billion to oust Saddam Hussein, restore order and install a new government.” Now, five years later, the Pentagon says the cost of the war is “roughly $600 billion and counting” while economist Joseph Stiglitz “pegs the long-term cost at more than $4 trillion,” which he calls an “excessively conservative” estimate.

Marking the fifth anniversary of the Iraq war, President Bush will deliver a speech today at the Pentagon defending his decision to wage war. According to excerpts, Bush will say the war’s “high cost in lives and treasure” has been “necessary” and that the war’s successes are “undeniable.”

71 percent: Americans who think “U.S. spending in Iraq is a reason for the nation’s poor economy.” According to the new CNN poll, just 36 percent of the American public believes the “situation in Iraq was worth going to war over — down from 68 percent in March 2003, when the war began.”

32 percent: The number of Americans who approve of President Bush, down from 34 last month. The new Reuters/Zogby poll also finds that only 19 percent believes the country is headed in the right direction.

Former Secretary of State Lawrence Eagleburger, a surrogate for John McCain, told an audience that the religious right is “a serious problem.” “On the Christian hard right, I live in Charlottesville now and I can’t tell you I’m surrounded by it,” Eagleburger said. “I must tell you we fought it there, fought hard against it. There’s no question that in the Republican Party it is a serious problem.”

David Brody writes, “There’s a little whisper campaign out there among grassroots social conservatives who are concerned that John McCain may want to tamper a little with the language in the Republican Party platform when it comes to marriage.” McCain has denied that he will try to change the platform.

Yesterday, the FBI disclosed that it has launched criminal investigations against 17 companies “in the fallout of the subprime mortgage collapse.” Two Justice Department officials have confirmed that Countrywide Financial is one of the companies under investigation.

Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) and Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT) are introducing legislation “aimed at stabilizing financial markets by helping as many as 2 million homeowners avoid foreclosure.” The separate bills look to give the Federal Housing Administration “a key role in helping to renegotiate distressed mortgages and would provide up to $300 billion in guarantees to new lenders.”

19 percent: The portion of Americans who “believe the country is headed in the right direction,” according to a Reuters/Zogby poll released today. Pollster John Zogby says the recent poll, which measures the mood of the country, “was the first time all 10 of the measures used in the poll to take the temperature of the country were down.”

And finally: On Monday, viewers of the Charlie Rose show were “stunned” to see the “normally composed Rose looking like he’d just been in a bar fight.” He had a “very bad black eye and a bandage over part of his forehead.” (Pictures here.) According to the show’s producers, Rose tripped in a pothole while walking down the street. Carrying a new MacBook Air, he “made a quick (but ultimately flawed) decision while falling: sacrifice the face, protect the computer.” He then “hit the pavement face first.” The MacBook Air, however, is fine.

What did we miss? Let us know in the comments section.