Coming into his sixth State of the Union address, Bush is politically weaker than ever before, and the cause is clear: Iraq.
The most recent WaPo-ABC poll found that 51% of Americans disapprove strongly of Bush’s performance, and a further 14% disapprove somewhat, while only 33% express any level of approval at all. 48% said the Iraq war is the single most important issue they want Bush and the Congress to deal with this year.
And the recent news from Iraq is not good. Saturday was one of the killingest days for US service members in Iraq. Today (Monday), 88 Iraqis were ripped to death in a double car-bomb blast in a Baghdad market. On Monday, too, the US military worked hard to produce some “good news” for the Prez by issuing a report that they’d killed 93 Qaeda-related rebels in a 10-day operation in Diyala Province, northeast of Baghdad. (On the other hand, how many Qaeda-related rebels were there in all of Iraq, before Bush launched his ill-fated invasion of the country in 2003? Considerably fewer than 93, for sure.)
But possibly the worst recent Iraq news for the Prez came from the Shiite holy city of Karbala where on Saturday, some very bold and well-organized anti-US insurgents wearing what looked like US uniforms drove a sizeable convoy of SUVs right into a joint US-Iraqi base, and hunted down the US service members there, killing five and wounding three, before the whole convoy roared right out into the sunset again, unimpeded.
The base in question was a “Provincial Joint Coordination Center” (PJCC), where US troops were co-deployed alongside colleagues from the Iraqi “security forces.” Very evidently, what happened there Saturday was a massive breach of security… And the fact the assailants were able to drive their multiple vehicles out of the compound after the attack without incident indicates– perhaps even more strongly than the fact that they were able to get into it so easily– that they likely had a number of confederates among the Iraqi security personnel working there.