“In short, Bush could pull a win-win-win out of this shift. He could pre-empt the Democrats’ main line of attack against his administration, stave off the prospect of (from the GOP’s perspective) disastrous elections in 2006 and ’08, and, as a result, bolster his presidency’s otherwise dwindling authority within his own party and among the general population.” Slate‘s Fred Kaplan argues that, despite the administration’s demagogic attacks of the past few weeks and recent reports of faith-based blinders, Dubya may well bow to reality and announce a phased withdrawal from Iraq in a speech tomorrow.
Update: Dubya sets the stage: “‘We will make decisions about troops levels based upon the capability of the Iraqis to take the fight to the enemy,’ Bush said in El Paso, Texas. ‘I will make decisions on the level of troops based upon the recommendations of commanders on the ground.'”
Update 2: Dubya makes his speech, and, in keeping with his usual MO, it’s basically just “stay-the-course” for now. Although, as suspected, he did argue that Iraqi forces have made great strides of late, which leaves the door open for withdrawal by Election Day 2006, as Murtha, Kaplan, and others have predicted.
“Mythologies aren’t created for the purpose of telling history, they’re created for the purpose of trying to devise some form of identity for people.” On the eve of Terence Malick’s highly-awaited The New World (out Christmas Day), the NYT‘s Steve Chagollan briefly assesses portrayals of Pocahontas in film. (Via Dangerous Meta.)
“I think right now we’re trying in these next five episodes that we’re filming — it’s blatant that we’re begging people to view the show. Like Ron Howard will say something like, ‘Please tell your friends to watch this show.’ We’re just desperate at this point.” Here Comes Trouble points the way to an extensive interview with Michael Cera, a.k.a. Arrested Development‘s George Michael, on the show and its unfortunately probable early cancellation.
Warning: Here there be spoilers. From the Battle of Britain to the Battle for Narnia, this new nine minute supertrailer for The Lion, The Witch, & The Wardrobe pretty much walks you through the entire movie. That being said, it does look right nice, and I’m looking forward to more of Tilda Swinton. (Liam Neeson, on the other hand, has done one too many mentor roles by this point.)
Via Cliopatria, Inside Higher Ed looks at increased use of Civilization III in college history courses. Um, yes, I’ve been playing Civ 4 in almost all of my spare moments of late solely for pedagogical purposes. Seriously, notwithstanding my own inveterate Civ addiction, I can’t see how the game would be in any way useful in teaching history, and particularly at the college level. And if you’re going to use games for elementary, middle, or even high school courses, I think you’d do better with a game grounded in specific history, such as old-timey classics The Oregon Trail or Seven Cities of Gold.
As the State Department stalls for time, the European Union considers suspending the voting rights of those member nations which were home to secret CIA gulags. (Human Rights Watch has said that Poland and Romania are the most likely suspects, although many other nations may have witnessed CIA flights go to and fro.)
“After the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the former official said, he was told that Bush felt that ‘God put me here’ to deal with the war on terror. The President’s belief was fortified by the Republican sweep in the 2002 congressional elections; Bush saw the victory as a purposeful message from God that ‘he’s the man,’ the former official said. Publicly, Bush depicted his reelection as a referendum on the war; privately, he spoke of it as another manifestation of divine purpose.” By way of Salon‘s War Room, The New Yorker‘s Sy Hersh scrutinizes the terrifying dogmatism and tone-deafness at work in the White House with regards to Iraq.
Here’s more: “[Rove and Cheney] keep him in the gray world of religious idealism, where he wants to be anyway,’ the former defense official said. Bush’s public appearances, for example, are generally scheduled in front of friendly audiences, most often at military bases. Four decades ago, President Lyndon Johnson, who was also confronted with an increasingly unpopular war, was limited to similar public forums. ‘Johnson knew he was a prisoner in the White House,’ the former official said, ‘but Bush has no idea.’“
Meanwhile, the investigations continue. This weekend, Time reporter Viveca Novak announced she’s cooperating with Plamegate prosecutors, who have been asking her about her conversations with Robert Luskin, Karl Rove’s attorney, beginning in 2004. Doesn’t sound like Rove is off the hook, does it? Update: Apparently, Novak was Rove’s alibi: “‘This is what caused [Fitzgerald] to hold off on charging’ Rove, the source said. But another person familiar with the conversations said they did not appear to significantly alter the case.“