Same as it ever was, same as it ever was

by Ogi Overman

This is the time of year when folks, columnists included, are supposed to be looking ahead to a new year and the hope of better things to come. We’re all starting from scratch, wiping the slate clean, getting another chance at trying to get it right. It’s supposed to be a renewal of spirit, of discarding the things that didn’t work in the year just past and embracing new ways of pursuing happiness.

And it never works out that way.

I’ve grown weary of singing the same song, different verse year after year, so this time around I’ve decided to do things a little differently. Instead of looking forward, I’m going to look back, and in so doing, demonstrate that nothing of any real significance changed last year nor will it in 2007. As long as we’re hostages in Bushworld, the only change will be for the worse.

So, here are a few random thoughts on the state of things heading into year No. 7 of the Duh Dictatorship.

• I wrote a column in mid-’05 extrapolating exactly when the number of American deaths in the war on Iraq would surpass the casualties of 9/11. I predicted that it would occur around the last week of October, 2006, just before the mid-term elections, and that it would get a ton of play in the media and, in turn, contribute to a Democratic landslide.

OK, I got the last part right but missed the date by a couple of months. As of December 21, we’ve lost 2957 souls in Iraq (not counting the 356 in Afghanistan). The official death toll from 9/11 is 2974.

Do you think once another 17 US soldiers are killed, Bush will realize the bitter irony and mark the occasion by announcing a troop withdrawal? Or will he try to convince us that more troops are needed to secure Baghdad? Will the media continue to use the phrase “double-down” to mean increasing the bet that more troops will turn the tide in our favor, or that the number of senseless dead has now doubled since 9/11? And that nothing of value has been accomplished. Nothing.

• Speaking of overused words, who else is sick of “surge”? Rather than a troop surge, the only surge I want to see is the surge of vehement letters to every Congressman in America urging impeachment proceedings be initiated ASAP. Unless this loon who calls himself president is given some adult supervision, I’m afraid he’s going to invade Iran!

Is the Congress going to be the adult here and hold him accountable, or will they go along with his lunacy once again and allow him to escalate one needless war and provoke yet another one. They are already showing signs of capitulating so, again, my guess is that they’ll exercise a little oversight, hold a few hearings, slap a few wrists, but that they’ll do nothing to rein him in.

• The best line I’ve heard lately came from a Democratic strategist named Michael Feldman. Appearing on “Hardball” last Thursday, he said: “Most people who are in a hole stop digging; Bush reaches for a bigger shovel.”

• Even worse than “surge” and “double-down” is the triumvirate of “define the mission,” “a clear objective” and “clearcut strategy.” There is only one mission here, one objective, one strategy, and it is this: Bush is desperately trying to NOT become the worst president in US history. He has staked his legacy on victory in Iraq, and nothing short of that, in his mind, will secure his place in history. He says he doesn’t worry about how history may judge him, but that wouldn’t be the first lie he’s ever told, now would it?

What if he were to admit to the world that he’d made a grievous error in judgment, that his intentions were honorable but he miscalculated the ferocity of the resistance, that all he wanted was to fight terrorism but that it backfired? Would that enhance his legacy? Could he demonstrate, in these last two years of his presidency, that statesmanship and diplomacy, heretofore unexplored options, could again rise to the level it should occupy in the conducting of international affairs? Rather than his policy of shoot first and sort out the bodies later, could he reverse course and, like every single president before him, try negotiating with our adversaries?

But if the guy won’t listen to his own father, who just so happens to have a little experience in the matter, whom will he listen to? If a Democratic House and Senate and 88 percent of the American people aren’t enough to force a change of heart, what will it take?

Oh, and when his troop surge produces nothing more than a surge in the American body count, will anything change? Probably not.

Some happy new year.

Ogi can be reached at