The facts in the column may be substantively cribbed from innumerable blogs, but it has that trademark Dowd cattiness. And, oh yes, it's so true:
Dance of the Marionettes: It's heartwarming, really.
President Bush has his own Mini-Me now, someone to echo his every word and mimic his every action.
For so long, Mr. Bush has put up with caricatures of a wee W. sitting in the vice president's lap, Charlie McCarthy style, as big Dick Cheney calls the shots. But now the president has his own puppet to play with.
All last week in New York and Washington, Prime Minister Ayad Allawi of Iraq parroted Mr. Bush's absurd claims that the fighting in Iraq was an essential part of the U.S. battle against terrorists that started on 9/11, that the neocons' utopian dream of turning Iraq into a modern democracy was going swimmingly, and that the worse things got over there, the better they really were.
Every time the administration takes a step it says will reduce the violence, the violence increases.
Mr. Bush doesn't seem to care that by using Mr. Allawi as a puppet in his campaign, he decreases the prime minister's chances of debunking the belief in Iraq that he is a Bush puppet – which is the only way he can gain any credibility to stabilize his devastated country and be elected himself.
Actually, being the president's marionette is a step up from Mr. Allawi's old jobs as henchman for Saddam Hussein and stoolie for the C.I.A.
It's hilarious that the Republicans have trotted out Mr. Allawi as an objective analyst of the state of conditions in Iraq when he's the administration's handpicked guy and has as much riding on putting the chaos in a sunny light as they do. Though Mr. Allawi presents himself as representing all Iraqis, his actions have been devised to put more of the country in the grip of this latest strongman – giving himself the power to declare martial law, bringing back the death penalty and kicking out Al Jazeera.
Bush officials, who proclaim themselves so altruistic about bringing liberty to Iraq, really see Iraq in a creepy narcissistic way: It's all about Mr. Bush's re-election.
The only odd thing is that Dowd is surprised. With this crowd everything is about their re-election. It's part of why they are so dangerous. With the Reaganites you frequently believed that large swatches of policy might actually be dictated by some crazed belief they were good for the nation (not environmental policy, and arguably not Stockmanomics, but much defense and foreign policy at least).
The effort required for any well-informed person to hold that belief about this lot is much more than mere cognitive dissonance could describe. It needs at least a Marcuse to encompass it.