Growing economic woes and a looming recession have become the focal point of public concern. Yet, for thousands of young Americans and their families, another issue clocks in as the most important: the war in Iraq. This week the Iraqi city of Mosul has been under siege and while the faltering United States economy and 2008 election coverage dominate the media landscape, people continue to die, Iraq continues to burn and oh… George Bush has given up golf.

Yes, that’s right. According to a nauseatingly fawning online interview with Yahoo! News and Politico, the empathizer-in-chief lets us know he’s given up his backswing because he didn’t want the mothers of deceased soldiers to see him working on his game. The president noted, “I feel I owe it to the families to be in solidarity as best as I can with them. And I think playing golf during a war just sends the wrong signal.”

One wonders if the president will continue his golf prohibition once his successor takes office or if he will go back to swinging the nine iron once the war he started is finally somebody else’s problem. Of course, if President Bush really wants to show solidarity with the families of American soldiers he could… I don’t know… how about BRING THEM HOME!

Of course, I’m kidding the president. We all know if we pull out of Iraq, terrorists will learn to read maps, figure out where we live and then follow us home. When the Yahoo! interviewers inanely asked Bush what a doomsday scenario would be if we left Iraq, the president replied, “Extremists throughout the Middle East would be emboldened, which would eventually lead to another attack on the United States.”

For that answer, I won’t fault Bush. He’s right – that is a doomsday scenario. But asking Bush what the worst-case outcome of a withdrawal from Iraq would be is like asking David Horowitz to say the meanest thing he can about Muslims. We have already heard the answer!

Everybody is aware of the worst-case scenarios. We’ve been reminded about them every time Dick Cheney steps out of his dungeon for an interview or whenever John McCain wakes up from a nap – it’s the favorite Iraq-related Republican talking point. What might be more interesting would be for some enterprising young journalist to ask the president what the best-case situation could be of an American withdrawal from Iraq.

Of course, his answer would certainly be a dodge about how we can’t prematurely depart. But it may also be revealing, as this “worst-case scenario of leaving/best-case scenario of staying” dynamic is indicative of the war debate. Proponents of the Iraq occupation constantly remind the public that, should Americans leave Mesopotamia, the region will instantly erupt into chaos, while if we continue to occupy Iraq, it will eventually lead to peace and prosperity. But there is little reason to accept this analysis.

We could leave Iraq, and there could be a bunch of violence – just as there is now – and that could at some point dissipate and… lead to peace and prosperity. Since 2003, we have heard that if we leave Iraq things will get bad, but we stayed and things got bad.

None of that is to say withdrawing from Iraq will cure the country’s problems. It could make things worse, but it could also make things better, and at least it would stop American soldiers from being killed. George W. Bush’s endless occupation is not a solution to the crises, and expressing sympathy to the families of fallen soldiers by giving up golf is not an adequate substitute for an actual plan to bring American troops home.