To expand a bit on Atrios’ latest ISG remarks, the gigantic gaping black hole of error into which the ISG seems to have stumbled is the belief that George W. Bush and his key aides had some kind of secret desire to implement a reasonable Middle East policy and were merely backed into a corner by some unfortunately misguided past statements. I couldn’t really say why they thought that, but they obviously did and belief in such things is weirdly widespread. Earlier today I heard someone float the notion that the White House had spiked an op-ed calling for a grand bargain with Iran because they were busy conducting “quiet diplomacy” aimed at . . . a grand bargain with Iran. Well, if you believe that I have a bridge you may be interested in buying.

It’s hard for some folks to believe, but Bush in his own goofy way clearly believes roughly what he says about Iraq. That to lose the war would be a disaster and that to leave Iraq is to lose the war. That, somehow, a perpetual US military presence there will create a democracy. That we must never negotiate with evil. He’s been president a long time now and these ideas are guiding his thinking and will continue to do so unless he’s forced to make changes. He doesn’t need “political cover” to do something knew, he needs to be made to do it.