Wanted: Commander in Chief

When we first heard about the possibility of hiring a War Czar you should have heard how they pooh-pooh'd it in the White House press briefings. "No decision has been made about creating a new position," they said repeatedly, which translates as "we're not sure we can find anyone to take the job."

Now that the White House is searching for a "war czar," it begs the question of who has been coordinating U.S. involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan the past four years.

A team of West Wing players led by national security adviser Stephen Hadley has tried to keep turf-conscious agencies marching in the same direction on military, political and reconstruction fronts. A few Bush aides say privately, however, that the White House probably should have recruited someone to oversee the war effort a year ago.

Critics say the administration's job of coordinating the war has never gone smooth enough or fast enough. And now two key members of the White House team focused on the war are leaving.

"The problem is not broad strategy and policy, it's that the bureaucracy is so inefficient and there's been so little follow-up that the machine doesn't work," former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said. He believes red tape in Washington is the biggest obstacle to winning in Iraq.

Ahhh, Newt Gingrich. That's right, ladies and gentlemen, the Big-Ideas-Man of the Republican Party is savvy enough to understand that the real problem in Iraq is not a centuries old sectarian war, but filling out forms in triplicate. Reshuffling our bureaucracy is his grand plan for salvaging Iraq, yet he's seen as an intellectual giant that could swoop in and save the party from the likes of serial wafflers like Romney and Giuliani. Woe betide the Republicans if this benighted pablum spewer is their last best hope.

As for the substance of the War Czar position, the response is obvious: don't we already have a Commander in Chief? I think I have heard that we do. Perhaps he has the authority to cut through that bastard red-tape that Gingrich thinks is detonating EFPs in Baghdad? Or, if the President is too busy (perhaps, like Osama, he doesn't like to "think too much" about the Iraq War), perhaps the Secretary of Defense has some power? Or the Joint Chiefs?

The reason they can't find a taker for this position is as plain as day. They can't blame Bush, Gates, the Joint Chiefs, or General Petreus for the ever darkening cloud of looming defeat, so they need a fall guy. This War Czar wont change the dynamic in the war from Washington, because if that were possible it would have happened by now. Despite the fact that this government misled us into a terrible war doesn't mean that they relish the continued loss of American lives, so if shuffling bureaucracies could solve this, we wouldn't be having this conversation.

I really can't imagine someone with a choice taking this job.

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