President Bush has illustrious company in the history of where presidents turn for applause when public support for a war begins a merciless plunge.
When it was apparent to most everyone the Vietnam War was lost, Presidents Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon nevertheless showed up at military veterans groups' meetings—just as Bush went before the Veterans of Foreign Wars in Salt Lake City this week—to claim they were making progress, that all was not lost, to stay the course.
And just as Johnson and Nixon cleaved to the apocalyptic domino theory that communism would spread if the United States withdrew from Vietnam, President Bush raises a kindred specter of terrorism spreading to U.S. shores if it fails in Iraq.
But Bush laid it on with more truculent hyperbole at the VFW gathering.
Predicting victory over terrorism, Bush told the VFW "we defeated fascism, we defeated communism."
Well, now. Either the president isn't up on current affairs or he's guilty again of stretching the truth to mislead his audience.
Communism hasn't been defeated. Has he forgotten that communism flourishes as official government policy in Russia, Cuba, Vietnam and with our bosom trading partner, mainland China?
As for fascism, the military junta in Myanmar (once known as Burma) is fascist along with several thuggish states in Africa.
The president seems to travel between different worlds in his visions of American life.
In his VFW speech, he said, "Since the morning of Sept. 11th, we have known that the war on terror would require great sacrifice as well."
Sacrifice? The only "great sacrifice" anyone endures these days seems to be military personnel and their families.
The president has shown no change in lifestyle. He's luxuriating this week at Idaho's new Tamarack Resort. Nor has he asked Americans for sacrifice: Tax breaks for industry and cuts for the wealthy continue.
Genuine "great sacrifice" is something VFW members of World War II vintage understood—rationing of meat, sugar, gasoline and rubber tires; backyard Victory gardens for vegetables in short supply; blackouts; air raid wardens patrolling streets.
Creating what amounts to a theatrical stage set resembling a nation at war is not the same as reality and the public knows it.
Protesting mothers aren't the president's problem.
The most telling opposition to sinking public confidence are tens of thousands of young men and women who're declining to sign up for military service, leaving the Pentagon shorthanded to fight a war fewer and fewer are willing to support.