May 4, 2006

Get Out of the Street

Last week I was engaged in one of my new pasttimes, wandering around semi-lost through the downtown in search of fun and adventure. Right in the middle of the busy intersection of 9th and J wandered this kid, maybe 16 or 17. He seemed rather lost; he walked little to his left, and little to his right, never leaving the dead center of a major intersection. The light changed and cars started whizzing by on ether side of him. His response to this was to bend down and tie his shoe.

All I could do was stare. Was he on drugs? Suicidal? Some kind of weird performance artist? I was thinking I better do something, else this guy was going to get splattered. Just when I was starting to contemplate an action-movie-style tackle-him-out-of-the-way-just-before-the-onrushing-garbage-truck move when a construction worker on the other side of the street came up with a much better course of action. He shouted "Get out of the Goddam road, you dumb fuck!"

This seemed to get through. Our lost soul drifted over to the sidewalk with some screeching of brakes and honking of horns. He then drifted down the street, not moving with great purpose but at least out of the flow of traffic, never to be seen again, at least by your humble correspondent.

Which brings me to this George Packer piece I read via TPM on Bush and Iraq:

If there are any Wise Men available in the spring of 2006, what should they tell President Bush to do in Iraq? And, if they told him, would he listen? The government is in a strange and prolonged state of paralysis. Many officials in the Administration now admit, privately, and after years of willful blindness, that the war, in which almost twenty-four hundred Americans have died, and whose cumulative cost will reach $320 billion this year, is going badly and shows no prospect of a quick turnaround. Asked why the President doesn’t take this or that step to try to salvage what will become his legacy—fire his Secretary of Defense, for example—they drop their heads, as if to say: We know, he should, but it’s not going to happen. At the same time, they can’t quite bring themselves to abandon hope for a miracle.

Right now we are standing in the middle of the road in Iraq, not moving, just hoping that the cars are going miss and that someone is going to rescue us. Somebody needs to do the political political equivalent of yelling, "Get out of the street" so that the president can hear. More Packer:

As a strategy, this amounts to muddling through the rest of the Bush Presidency, without being forced to admit defeat, until January of 2009, when the war will become a new President’s problem.

We can't stay on this street for three more years. We have to get off the street.

No comments: