* Frank Rich (thnx Jen):
"PRESIDENT BUSH always had one asset he could fall back on: the self-confidence of a born salesman. Like Harold Hill in “The Music Man,” he knew how to roll out a new product, however deceptive or useless, with conviction and stagecraft. What the world saw on Wednesday night was a defeated Willy Loman who looked as broken as his war. His flop sweat was palpable even if you turned down the sound to deflect despair-inducing phrases like “Prime Minister Maliki has pledged …” and “Secretary Rice will leave for the region. …”
Mr. Bush has never asked for sacrifice and still doesn’t. If his words sound like bargain-basement Churchill, his actions have been cheaper still. The president’s resolutely undermanned war plan indicated from Day 1 that he knew in his heart of hearts that Iraq was not the central front in the war against 9/11 jihadism he had claimed it to be, only the reckless detour that it actually was."
* Henley's place:
"A large military-industrial complex is never a good thing. However, if we absolutely must have one, I’d rather have one that gets paid the same with or without a war. It’s expensive and wasteful, but at least it’s less messy. Soldiers receive a paycheck every month, war or no war. Contractors (and, more importantly, their politically connected Chief Executive Officers) only get a paycheck when there’s a war.
Indeed, I’ve read in more than one place that the companies that make the Big Shiny Toys don’t really like the sort of wars that we are currently fighting, and that we are likely to continue fighting for the foreseeable future. A nicy shiny airplane that can fly faster than other fighter jet, eavesdrop on the most hardened electronic communications, deliver a bunker-buster missile with pinpoint precision, and deliver manufacturing jobs to key Congressional districts isn’t necessarily the most useful thing for fighting on Haifa Street. A submarine that can stay under for 2 years, evade the most sophisticated sonar, tap into undersea fiber-optic cables, and launch a full nuclear arsenal won’t be useful in Tora Bora.
So, if we absolutely must increase the size of the Army, Congress should combine it with a law that severely limits the use of contractors. The only thing worse than a large standing army is a private army that is always seeking new employment opportunities."