What has happened since May 10th (updated)

On May 10th, I wrote Bush dances with free people; Albright danced with Kim Jong Il. (If you think I do not support President Bush, please READ that link).

Does anyone remember April and May of 2005? And the months preceeding them? The Orange Revolution? The Arab Springtime? The Cedar Revolution of Lebanon – all of them seeming to have a fire lit under them, a wonderful fire of liberty. Remember Revolution Babes?

All around the globe, there was a spirit of something that felt a lot like the Will to Power – something that was building in momentum — like we were on the brink of something truly remarkable and historic and new.

Then, suddenly – poof! – it all stopped?

It all just seemed to go away, like giant foot just came down and stomped out all of those wonderful fires, and the White House seems to have just — blink! Forgotten about it.

I like W a lot, but what the hell? Could it be that the press has finally broken him, somehow, and he’s afraid to make a move?

You know what? I don’t think so.

For once, I don’t think this can be blamed on “the press.”

The momentum has stopped. Everything has come to a screeching halt. Is there something he’s not telling us?

It’s very troubling. Worrying. People seem to be running out of energy here, and W is simply not rallying them – it is like he’s running out the clock, and this seems to me to be a sinfully wasteful thing to do. I agreed with David Frum, yesterday, that the WH needs to communicate more effectively about the war – about many things – but beyond all of that, there is this strange and sudden silencing of movement. I do not get it.

And neither, apparently does anyone else.

Yesterday a pal wrote me and touched on it, too, so I’m not the only one who has noticed that six months ago, the world was dancing toward democracy and freedom – in places where only a few years ago the idea seemed improbable – and in short order the dancing has stopped, the photos are a dim memory, and it all seems like something that happened a long, long time ago.

Last night, I wrote to a very smart, very knowledgeable guy with whom I correspond (if I told you his name, you’d be like, “you DO NOT correspond with him!” And I’d be like, “uh-huh, I do!” And you’d be like, “Get out!”). I wrote to this exceedingly brilliant man, of whom I am very respectful: “explain this to me, please, because you are very smart and because I don’t get it. What happened? How did we move from such a sense of promise – just six months ago – to this sort of dreary, stagnant, nuthin’ is goin’ anywhere sort of torpor? Where is the energy, where is the juice, what has happened?”

His answer: “I don’t know. I don’t like it, either.”

Well. If that’s the case, we’re really in trouble. I mean, I routinely don’t know what is going on, but I’m nobody and I’m not especially smart. If this guy also doesn’t get it . . .

This is what I have noticed about George W. Bush: He plays his cards close to the vest and he loves to make the other side feel that first flush of victory. He’s a little cruel that way. He loves to allow the opposition to become overconfident and shrill and a little mad, he loves to make them think, “we’ve GOT him,” and then throw down a Royal Flush. And he always comes back from his August vacation with a surprise, with something unexpected. He’s done it every year.

No, don’t ask me to remember what each September has brought, I can’t, but I do know that every September has begun with some sort of Bushian surprise or new idea or initiative – I know it because I’ve noticed it. I may not be brilliant, but I am very observant.

I have observed this poker-playing-and-September-breaking behavior of Bush in the past, so I am going to look for something fresh and new in September; I’m going to be on the lookout for something – anything – that makes the bizarre, peek-a-boo-revolutions of late 2004-early 2005 make sense. I’m going to be seeking out signs that this energetic president is not simply treading water, or running out the clock. The stakes are too, too high. And I simply don’t believe it of him.

Still, it certainly does seem like there is some treading going on, right now.

My eyes are wide open, and my eyebrows are up. This is not the first time I have waited, with some frustration, to see President Bush make a move, but it is the first time I have been troubled in my wait.

I hope I see something, come September. I really hope so. I’m not minimizing the enormous accomplishment that is the Iraqi constitution – I’m really not. But I’m gettin’ antsy, Mr. President. Gettin’ antsy.

UPDATE: Glenn Reynolds has pointed out some reasons for optimism that I have missed and they certainly are heartening. Powerline also has a good essay about how we got through previous wars. Perhaps Jimmie Bise’s prosposed War News Show is what I need!

UPDATE II: Wow, when I wrote this I had no idea I was going to get flamed from all sides via my email! I’ve got folks on the right castigating me for not fully supporting the president (hello – I DO – I just am wondering about this sailboat that seems to have lost its wind), or for not understanding he is tired. (Of course he is tired. But he’s got miles to go before he can sleep!) and then I have the folks on the left writing to me saying — well, they’re saying all manner of hateful and strange gobbledeegook but it seems to sum up this way: “stay offa our side, Anchoress, we hate you,” which is fine, since I am not “on” their side and not trying to ingratiate myself to anyone.

All I am saying is, I just really hope September brings some renewal of momentum. It’s important.

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  • SigmundCarlandAlfred

    Excellent post.
    I’m less troubled by the ‘wait.’ Emotions aside, there is a juggernaut effect. What started in Afghanstan, then Iraqm then Lebanon, isn’t going away.

    The slope may flatten out a bit, but the momentum is there- and it’s all downhill. Freedom is like that- give people a taste…

  • TheAnchoress

    Well, then…I’d like it to be a little faster, please! :-)

  • http://closedcafeteria.blogspot.com GeraldBoSox

    Well, if things don’t change for the better, the Republicans will get skewered in next year’s elections.

    On a different note: Pat Robertson is creepy.

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  • Jimmie

    I mean, the Iraqis are hammering out their own Constitution – doing in the space of a few months what it took us years to accomplish. I’d say that was pretty momentous.

    I don’t think the freedom train has stopped cold. I think it’s between Phase 1 (Euphoric Street Marching, Complete with Hottie Protest Babes) and Phase 2 (Hanging the Corrupt Dictators from Lamposts). In cases where there is no Phase 2 possible due to lack of corrupt dictators or sturdy lamposts, they’re moving to Phase 3 (Building a Consentual Government and Acting Like Decent Folks), which isn’t nearly as photogenic as Phases 1 or 2.

    Georgia’s getting down to being a serious and influential player in its region and has been doing some serious leaning on neighboring countries to clean up their acts. Lebanon just had an election and the revolutionary forces there are trying to figure out what it is they’ve won thus far and what do to with what they have. The new King of Saudi Arabia is sending up so many freedom-related trial balloons that it looks like a clown exploded over Riyadh. Even Egypt is cracking the freedom doors open to let in a little bit of air.

    These things come as they come, my Fair Anchoress, and I’m not discouraged at all by the lack of exciting news. Keep Faith in the wonderful things that are brewing, even when we can not see them. Freedom is not so easily extinguished.

  • Bender B. Rodriguez

    People seem to be running out of energy here, and W is simply not rallying them

    One thing to remember here is that George W. is not a one-man savior of the world. He is not some modern-day personal messiah that takes on all the problems of the world all by himself. He is only a man, and he is only one man, and HE NEEDS HELP to do the things that needs to be done. Unlike what we do with Christ, we cannot simply sit back and expect W. to do everything for us — we actually have to get out there and we have to be the ones to change the world. W. can only set the conditions to allow for such positive change.
    —This is like all the people who complain and complain about the judicial confirmation problem and they blame it, not on the Senate — and spineless, worm-like Republicans in particular — but they blame the president for the problem! He doesn’t run the Senate! Its up to the senators to get nominees confirmed, but folks expect W. to do everything all by himself.
    —W. is practically the ONLY person out there that is doing anything, and he is the one that gets all the grief, not only from the enemy left, but from his own friends and allies. Aside from soulmates Cheney, Rice, and Rumsfeld, who else out there is doing anything? What is anyone else out there doing?
    —Folks need to direct their fire and frustration where it deserves to go, on all those squishy Republicans and RINOs who lack any spine. If they had even one testicle to share amongst themselves it would be an improvement. Now, most of the Dems are, unfortunately, a lost cause since they apparently have decided that W. is the greatest enemy of mankind the world has ever seen.
    —Its time to grow up. We cannot sit on the sidelines and expect W. to do everything all by himself, bitching and moaning when he proves himself not to be a superman. We cannot expect him to be a cheerleader that rallies the people and gives them the necessary gas to go on.
    —We all know the problems, we all know the threat of the Islamists, we all know our Christian/Samaritan obligation not to abandon the Iraqis and others at the roadside who need our assistance, we all know of genocidal fanatics in this country that rejoice in the slaughter of 40 million pre-natal lives. We don’t need W. to pump us up and explain for the one-millionth time why we are fighting and what we are fighting for. We already know why, and we know what needs to be done.
    —What we don’t need to do is attack and eat our own, thereby giving encouragement to our enemies and foes. We need to stand by our friends, we need to stand by W. To be sure, he is not perfect, none of us are, but you will not hear me criticizing him. He needs at least one person to remain steadfast and at his side. Especially since there is not one other person out there that is any better.
    —W. is the best person we got, and thank God that we have him. Thank God that we have W. at this time in history to guide us through the present danger — not to be a personal, one-man savior of the world — but to guide us. If we had anyone else as president, we would probably have the entire middle east at war against us, not merely a few thousand thugs and punks. If we had anyone else as president, I would probably not be writing this because D.C. would have been nuked by now. Thank you God for giving us George W. Bush.

  • Pam

    Great Post! I too am waiting for the President. He checks out in August; this year it seems so, but maybe, he really needs the rest because last year was the election and this year is seems more challenging. My prayers for him and his family is that they will return refreshed and ready to lead.

  • Pam

    I meant to say this year it seems more so.

  • http://davejustus.blogspot.com/ Dave Justus

    Democracy and Freedom are hard work. Most of the time, it isn’t exciting and glamourous, as the Iraqi people are finding out right now. It is just plain work and it isn’t sexy at all.

    To an extent, I think the euphoria of last spring was a bit overstated, and that the reality of hard work and real challenges that pretty protesters alone won’t fix has dimmed things.

    Still, I am confident that the hard work will be done and freedom is still marching forward.

  • stephanie

    I agree with Dave, but would also point out one thing…It’s August. There’s a reason Bush takes his vacation in August- all of Europe takes the whole month for vacation, and things are slower. I think…summers are just slower. Those of us in the western hemisphere are enjoying the weather, finishing plans begun with much hoopla in the spring- a lot of things go underground, so to speak. I work in business, and I gotta tell ya- things just lull in the middle of the year. Everyone just peters out for a bit :-) I think it’s our nature :-)

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  • hope

    Worth reading these observations written by Mike Walker and posted over at Instapundit right now:

    I think whats wrong with the President is that he is tired, as we say in the south “slam wore out”. Like a good blue tick after hunting, he needs to crawl up under the porch out of the heat and sleep for a good long spell. Look at pictures of him, you can see the graying, the wrinkling, and the fraying take place right before your eyes.
    The man has had to preside over some momentous events during his 2 terms, from 9/11 to Enron et al to recession to Afghanistan to Iraq to a bitter, long and momentously important election to supreme court appointments. Every step of the way he has been criticized, demonized, lied about, misrepresented, belittled and opposed. No matter what he has done, he has been trashed out by someone somewhere, often including his own party members and some “supporters”. He has been betrayed by members of his own party in the senate. HIs victories are ignored and his losses maginified a thousand times over.
    The cumulative effect of all this, from what I can judge, has worn him out and drained him of his fire and energy. Lets face it, he is human, and the man has borne some unbelievable burdens over the last 5 years, where his choices were often between shades of the lesser of evils, and no choice was ever easy or apparent. HIs tank is low, and he needs some uplifting by those who believe in him. Nobody will please us 100% of the time.
    But what do we do? We start criticizing him again for not being super-human, and we start asking “whats wrong with the president?”, as if we ourselves never get tired, worn-out, run down, and just plain disocuraged in our jobs or lives. As a people, have we become this divorced from the realities of high-stakes leadership, and the toll it takes on those who take it on? Worse yet, have we no understanding and empathy for it?
    Maybe the real question is, whats wrong with us?

  • http://www.marchhareshouse.blogspot.net March Hare

    Got to say I agree with most that this is the end-of-summer doldrums. If we ordinary citizens need to go on retreat, rest, and relax, how much more so does the man who is a global leader 24/7/365?

    Congress comes back to D.C. on September 6 (the day after Labor Day), John Roberts confirmation battle is looming, and John Bolton is at the U.N. Fireworks are coming soon enough!

  • Bender B. Rodriguez

    I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again — It is a crucial point to recognize in warfare, that the most powerful and overwhelming weapon ever conceived is not the nuclear bomb, it is the will.

    —If our will is superior to that of the enemy, we will prevail. If the will of the enemy is superior to ours, we will lose; indeed, if the will of the enemy is superior, we will probably end up surrendering hard fought victories and bring defeat upon ourselves.
    —Osama bin Laden is said to believe that the West, and America in particular, doesn’t have the will to fight and defend itself, that eventually we will tire or not be able to stomach continued fighting, and we will become disillusioned and simply give up. It is up to us, we the people, to keep that from happening and to keep the faith.
    —Semper fi.

  • Bender B. Rodriguez

    No flaming or castigating you, dear Anchoress, just all those Hagel-McCain types out there who have had their runaway-shoes strapped on for too long.

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  • http://bamapachyderm.com Beth

    Bender (#14): EXACTLY right.
    The war won’t be lost on the battlefield, if it’s lost, it’ll be lost at home.

    You nailed it with saying they don’t believe we have the will or stomach (or patience) for it–and lately, with all the BS in the media and everything, it’s starting to look like they (Islamofascists) are correct in their assessment.

    Matthew 12:30: He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me scatters.

    The antiwar left IS the enemy, right alongside the terrorists.

  • http://futuremd.blogspot.com/ Victoria

    My dear sweet God! Such hand-wringing and spritzing doesn’t become our Anchoress.

    Come on now, Anchoress — it’s not that you are far off with your slightly disappointed remarks about the lack of (as MSM looooooove calling it) “energising the base” we’ve noticed this long summer on the part of the President and his staff.

    It’s that, given especially your observant nature (which I hope I share), this President always goes into hibernation from June to August of every year.

    – I remember thinking that Dubya was doing NOTHING in the year 2001, during those months. My mother, who noticed it as well, hoped this wasn’t a sign of things to come. –

    But if we really can credit ourselves with prescience and observant powers, you’ll notice that bad things happen to this president: more than to other presidents in similar timelines (only Jimmy Carter, I think, can beat him as to sheer bad news during one administration: 9/11, The Challenger explosion, on and on — in four short years!).

    But the genius of this president is that he turns these bad events, these events which would maim any other president (hello Jimmeh), into triumphs.

    He’s as my already mentioned mother says, an unlucky lucky president.

    But it’s more than that. He works best in adversity.

    When the Sheehan business started, I kinda knew in my heart it would pan out the way it did (a slow boil), but I thought it would give the Administration a prod in the backside.

    As an aside, this may not be the most elegant thing to say, but part of his unlucky luckiness has to do with his opponents or detractors just imploding without any help. Cindy Sheehan’s mum had a stroke, bless her, and she left the scene of her protest.

    In one year, Brokaw, Rather, and now Jennings, were all gone.

    When Chirac and France were playing hardball in 2003, suddenly they experienced an awful heat wave, killing THOUSANDS of their countrymen. Things like that happen without warning, and they have nothing to do with Bush, although in some way, they benefit him.


  • http://futuremd.blogspot.com/ Victoria

    Challenger = Columbia. Sorry.

  • Lyle

    Hey Anchoress, I know you love GWB, and although I don’t love him, I like him as a human being. I have never thought he was a bad person, nor do I hold it against him for being privileged. I simply don’t like his policies. You need to quit praying. Just kidding. :-)

  • Lyle

    “The important thing is for us to find Osama bin Laden. It is our Number
    One priority and we
    will not rest until we find him!”
    -George W. Bush, Sept. 13, 2001

    “I don’t know where bin Laden is. I have no idea and I really don’t
    care. It’s not that important.
    It’s not our priority.”
    -George W. Bush, March 13, 2002
    How is one supposed to be comfortable? comfortable??

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  • Bender B. Rodriguez

    Here’s a very interesting point to put things in perspective from Powerline, which, of course, I have never seen in the MSM –

    Sometimes it becomes necessary to state the obvious: being a soldier is a dangerous thing. . . . Even in peacetime. The media’s breathless tabulation of casualties in Iraq–now, over 1,800 deaths–is generally devoid of context. Here’s some context: between 1983 and 1996, 18,006 American military personnel died accidentally in the service of their country. That death rate of 1,286 per year exceeds the rate of combat deaths in Iraq by a ratio of nearly two to one.

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  • Miquel

    Dear Anchoress: as always, your writings are inspired. You are blessed with a special way of writing about things. Congratulations and blessings of God upon you. And congratulations for the instalanche also! :)

  • http://none Darrell

    Has anything changed? Or does it just seem that way? A matter of perspective? Or what we are shown by an ever-more-biased MSM? Is the altenative media just taking a break from its breakneck pace of a year ago?

    Relax and enjoy the AP stories about how Bush is the largest gas consumer of all. About Cindy. About Karl Rove. Or Pat Robertson issuing a ‘death warrant” on Papa Chavez.

    Heck, you can even Google Lyle’s second quote and see what comes up.

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  • Lyle

    Hey Darrell, I thought you had FOX news to set the truth straight?? Are they not doing their job or something?? At least you have Rush you have Rush. Limbaugh claimed the Bush administration never said Iraq war would be quick or easy, ignoring numerous statements by officials in lead-up to the war. Damn that MSM.