BUSH BASHING….It’s not as if any of these guys are likely to vote for John Kerry, but there sure are an awful lot of war supporters who are having second thoughts about George Bush these days:

David Brooks: “We’ve got to acknowledge first that the old debates are obsolete. I wish the U.S could still go off, after Iraq, at the head of “coalitions of the willing” to spread democracy around the world. But the brutal fact is that the events of the past year have discredited that approach. Nor is the U.N. a viable alternative. A body dominated by dictatorships is never going to promote democratic values. For decades, the U.N. has failed as an effective world power.”

George Will: “This administration cannot be trusted to govern if it cannot be counted on to think and, having thought, to have second thoughts….Being steadfast in defense of carefully considered convictions is a virtue. Being blankly incapable of distinguishing cherished hopes from disappointing facts, or of reassessing comforting doctrines in face of contrary evidence, is a crippling political vice.”

Andrew Sullivan: “The one anti-war argument that, in retrospect, I did not take seriously enough was a simple one. It was that this war was noble and defensible but that this administration was simply too incompetent and arrogant to carry it out effectively. I dismissed this as facile Bush-bashing at the time. I was wrong. I sensed the hubris of this administration after the fall of Baghdad, but I didn’t sense how they would grotesquely under-man the post-war occupation, bungle the maintenance of security, short-change an absolutely vital mission, dismiss constructive criticism, ignore even their allies (like the Brits), and fail to shift swiftly enough when events span out of control.”

Fareed Zakaria: “On almost every issue involving postwar Iraq?troop strength, international support, the credibility of exiles, de-Baathification, handling Ayatollah Ali Sistani?Washington’s assumptions and policies have been wrong. By now most have been reversed, often too late to have much effect. This strange combination of arrogance and incompetence has not only destroyed the hopes for a new Iraq. It has had the much broader effect of turning the United States into an international outlaw in the eyes of much of the world.”

Robert Kagan and William Kristol: “The Bush administration seems not to recognize how widespread, and how bipartisan, is the view that Iraq is already lost or on the verge of being lost. The administration therefore may not appreciate how close the whole nation is to tipping decisively against the war.”

As Mark Kleiman says in comparison, an awful lot of liberal Democrats decided they couldn’t vote for Jimmy Carter in 1980 no matter how good his intentions were. He just wasn’t up to the job.

I was one of them, and I ended up voting for John Anderson that year. I wonder how many honest Republicans there are out there who will come to the same conclusion this year and decide, no matter how much they like his principles, that George Bush is just not up to the job? It is past time for serious conservatives to decide that enough is enough and to wrest control of the Republican party away from the clap-your-hands pie-for-everyone Texas-style ideologues who are currently in charge. I wish them luck.

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