Bloody Knuckle Nation
Then some terrorist guy releases a video where he says "Hah! You'll have to leave Iraq EVENTUALLY! And when you do? It's ours, motherfucker!" Not in those words, mind you, but something to that effect. Now Bush is back to saying we're at war and of course it's a war and war war war is the only way.
This flip-flop might seem confusing--"Just when the administration was starting to show signs of mental activity he freaks out?"--but let me give an analogy...
Back when i was in high school (a time growing frigteningly farther and farther away...) some of the people with "tough guy" personas would play a game they called "bloody knuckles". This game, for those who have never attended high school/who attended high school in regions where it was not popular, essentially involved a contest of wills where knuckles were struck repeatedly until one of the contestents surrendered. And yes, there was blood involved at times. That was really all there was too it: "I'm a tough guy and I'm tougher than any of you! If you think otherwise I'll make you cry like a little pussy!"
Now, in and of itself that's a fairly benign (though painful and kind of silly) ritual to prove your will. Lots of different cultures (even ones as desolate as high schools) have rituals about proving you can tolerate pain or whatnot. Heck, there's also this thing called "giving birth" that--although i don't know first-hand--i'm told hurts like nothing else.
But when it's a nation playing the game gets sick.
When Bush says "bring 'em on" on the flight deck of an aircraft carrier, when Bush shrugs his shoulders as terrorists and rebels swipe a couple hundred tons of high explosives out from under his nose and use them (presumably) to blow up American troops, when Bush gives political opponents or just random people the finger in what is supposed to be a casual manner but comes off as "endlessly rehearsed", when Bush asserts that--when highly trained terrorists and rebels start a civil war in Iraq--he meant to do that and it was his plan all along (the morally bankrupt "flypaper theory") he's saying "Look at me! I'm a tough guy! I can watch my troops die and not even flinch! I don't even give a shit!"
And his supporters say "Look what a tough guy he is! He won't give them an inch even though his knuckles are bleeding!"
But the reason he doesn't give a shit is because it isn't his knuckles that are bleeding.
He holds up other people's knuckles to get struck while he struts and smirks and sneers (and flips the bird) and people cheer. But when it's their turn to fill in for him they'll have a whole new perspective.
This is also where the right-wingers' dismissal of the Rove issue comes from: "Look at the President! He's such a badass he doesn't even FLINCH even though his knuckles are bleeding from Iraq! You think he'd be afraid to fire some stupid consultant? Hah! He'd have him executed and pull the trigger himself if any of it were true! But he doesn't give a shit about that and he doesn't give a shit you pussy dummycrats are crying about it either!"
Of course, when it was his turn to get bloody for the country--and for the people in power, just others now are getting bloody for him--he ran and hid in a place where nobody was liable to hit me and said "Hah! Just one of you try to do it! I'm ready for you motherfuckers--if you dare!" (No accent because, at this point, he had not yet adopted it!)
He's got nothing except power. No guts, no courage, nothing. He's a spineless, pampered aristocrat in the old style. He talks big but--like the much-vaunted Samurai of Japan, who were cut down by a bunch of well-trained peasants with sticks--he doesn't have any idea what the reality of the situation is. I think i say that--that Bush literally lives in a haze where nothing is real and there are no consequences--quite seriously, too. He's still playing bloody knuckles--this time with a toothless, rotting tyrant and ruthless terrorists on the other side--but when he shrugs as the bodies fall it's not because he's Just That Hardcore; rather: because he doesn't feel a thing.