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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About Elizabeth Scalia