Patterico's Pontifications


Cutting and Running from Staying the Course

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 6:59 am

Via John Cole: Bush has decided not to “stay the course” on the issue of whether he is “staying the course.”

P.S. I know, I know, I know . . . he just meant we’re not “staying the course” in terms of tactics; we are completing the mission, etc. I understand all that. It’s still funny. And it’s not just a single slip — this is a talking point.

18 Responses to “Cutting and Running from Staying the Course”

  1. It’s a mistake as a talking point, though.

    aphrael (12fba5)

  2. Well, yeah, since it’s so easily and comically refuted.

    Patterico (de0616)

  3. Funny. Like Don Rumsfeld’s “I never said that” speeches when someone quotes him on something awkward.

    Leviticus (43095b)

  4. While I understand the sneerage here, I have to state that any effective organization must evaluate and change if the outcome doesn’t match it’s goals. To that end, this pareticular organization could stand to evaluate these issues a little more often.

    paul from fl (001f65)

  5. If you talk to most folks actually in the military who are actually doing the mission in Iraq I’m confident you’ll hear about multiple “changes in course” over the last three years, little of which makes it into the MSM because quite honestly it doesn’t fit the “this is Viet Nam2, we need to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory” meme.

    Clearly both we and our adversaries routinely adjust to the fluid demands of the tactical situation. I would also argue that the lessons of Viet Nam and our collective national short attention span have been learned by our islamo-fascist foes, who with CNN, are more than eager to exploit those lessons.

    Unfortunately, the “stay the course” rhetoric from the WH is taken out of the broader context. It doesn’t mean that we’ll continue to act in a wooden, no tactical changes, manner but that we will not abandon Iraq to the “insurgents”. Only in that sense will we “stay the course”. There is simply no intelligent option other than seeing this through to the end.

    Leaving before the job is done simply “accomplishes” what it did in SE Asia: years of brutal oppresion by the agressor who was too weak to win on the battlefield but who ran a marvelously successful propaganda campaign here with the MSM as willing accomplices.

    Having said all that, I am at a loss to explain why the WH has done such a horrible job in not clearly and continuously enunciating why it’s important that we stay in Iraq and what we are accomplishing there, while freely admitting our failures. We cannot leave the reporting simply up to the MSM who will dwell on the deaths in Bagdad while ignoring much of the remainder of the country, i.e., the Kurdish north and the Shia south, that are as peaceful as say Washington, DC, or Baltimore, MD, at least in terms of the daily death toll.

    As for the polls indicating that only about 33% (+/-) of the public support the war “as it’s now being waged”, while the preponderance of the rest of the country disapproves, what is not being discussed is that a significant portion of those “disapproving” do so because they feel we have not been aggressive enough.

    Harry Arthur (b318a5)

  6. One wishes for the eloquence of a Churchill.

    You ask, what is our policy? I will say: It is to wage war, by sea, land and air, with all our might and with all the strength that God can give us: to wage war against a monstrous tyranny, never surpassed in the dark, lamentable catalogue of human crime. That is our policy. You ask: what is our aim? I can answer in one word: Victory – victory – at all costs, victory, in spite of all terror, victory, however long and hard the road may be; for without victory, there is no survival.

    Of course, Churchill was a warmonger, advocating preemptive war when others saw the path to peace.

    Of course, Churchill was a drunk, often imbibing while still in bed.

    Of course, Churchill was a miserable failure as a wartime leader, overseeing such disasters as the fall of Singapore and Tobruk (the latter when the war was supposedly being won!).

    But, dang, the man could write a great phrase!

    Lurking Observer (ea88e8)

  7. As for the WH not “staying the course” on “staying the course”, good grief. For a WH that is supposedly so with it on forming public opinion, they’re, well, not too bright on this one.

    If I were speaking for them, I believe I’d say something like: “Look, “staying the course” was really a poor choice of words. It suggests that we are not only proactive, we’re not even reactive, neither of which is true. What we were trying to say is that we’re going to stick with this effort until we bring it to a victorious conclusion. That requires more than military power; it also requires political solutions and it requires considerable Iraqi effort as well. We’ve made considerable progress and we’ve made considerable mistakes. We continue to learn from both our successes and our mistakes, but so do our adversaries. The bottom line is that we constantly evaluate and re-evaluate our efforts and make suitable adjustments. The situation is never static as “staying the course” seems to suggest.” etc, etc, or something like that.

    In short, take the time to make, remake, and remake again, the case to the American people that this is worth the effort and worth the cost in blood and treasure. A speech here and there doesn’t cut it.

    Harry Arthur (b318a5)

  8. LO, I quote me and you quote Churchill …

    You’ve made the point much better and with a much more appropriate historical context.


    …often imbibing while still in bed. Not that there’s anything particularly wrong with that, of course.

    Harry Arthur (b318a5)

  9. Y’all don’t know nothin’ bout Texas ranchers, do ya? George W. NEVER said “stay the course”. If you spoke Texan, you would know he was saying we have to “hay the horse.”

    ed (b0fd8f)

  10. […] 4.) The growing dissatisfaction with the GOP from former supporters. Libertarian and former Bush supporter has had it and explains why he voted for the Democrats in 2006, Patterico, who has no love for Democrats, is showing signs that the administration bullshit anymore, Andrew Olmstead is tired of the administration nonsense (and has been for a while) and is assuming a Democrat victory in a few weeks, and even Tom Maguire is mocking the administration. […]

    Balloon Juice (c62e7c)

  11. A few quotes from what I found linked to the website above:

    just when you think it can’t get any more ridiculous.the man is a joke.
    Comment by jim — October 22, 2006 @ 9:51 am

    I honestly believe he is clinically delusional.
    Comment by michael — October 22, 2006 @ 9:52 am

    Bill Clinton must have been the one saying it.
    Comment by normalasf — October 22, 2006 @ 9:54 am

    He is speaking to the “Dummys” who believe that idiot. Wow
    Comment by Heynow — October 22, 2006 @ 9:55 am

    I would suggest that these folks do not “get it” as Pat does and clearly explained by Harry Arthur. While I agree that it often appears the WH does a poor job explaining itself, at the same time I don’t think those folks would “get it” even after reading Harry’s explanation. For one thing it would appear that President Bush actually has points to make, and that obviously can’t be true. 😉 Even if he made “Churchillian” quotes on a daily basis how many of those do you think would appear?

    I have heard the President say many times that he “listens to his generals” as to what they want and think they need, that he will give them whatever they need, that the tactics are being constantly reevaluated and adjustments/changes are made. Whether he clarified his comments as Harry suggests and it didn’t make news coverage or not, I don’t know. When I heard his press conference a week or two ago one morning it seemed pretty clear what the plan was and why.

    Churchill knew he needed to rally a country in a desperate situation. President Bush’s task is to convince a “microwave instant and convenient” public that some things are not convenient but still worthwhile.

    One thing that I think is ridiculous is to hear people talk about the need for the Iraqi people and government to “take more of a stake” in their future. They may have specific things in mind, but millions of people have voted at the risk of their lives- something probably only a very small number in the US would do tomorrow if necessary, and even low-level officials and their families are at risk for participating in the government. But the more talk there is in the US of planning a pull-out date because of the unpopularity of the war the more popular support in Iraq will (at least appear to) wane.

    When Democrats had control of Congress in the 70’s after Watergate, the US failed to keep its commitment to S. Vietnam that was involved in the peace agreement with N. Vietnam. Hence S. Vietnam fell and 100,000’s suffered under the communists. If I lived in Iraq and thought the possibility of a US pullout was increasing it would make it harder to work for the new government- the more prominent now the bigger target later. (Besides, we already did this once to Iraq after GW I).

    MD in Philly (3d3f72)

  12. I suppose it’s OK for Bush to publicly say, time and again, that we need to “stay the course” and then deny that he ever said it in the first place. He suspiciously denies his motto only after it became obvious that it was politically expedient to do so too. He was for “stay the course” before he was against it. He must think that most of us are fools.

    This isn’t an equivocation because everyone knows (now, finally) that Iraq is a sinking ship and, as Billmon says, “sinking ships can have only one course — straight down.

    Psyberian (9b3c88)

  13. MacArthur put a brothel madam into Japan’s first elected parliament the first time Japanese women were allowed to vote or hold office. But Japan had been totally subjugated, with the punctuation mark being the Emperor, speaking publicly for the first time in his life, declaring surrender. In Germany, the Russians did our subjugating for us. In Iraq, we were tigers in the war but we became pussycats in the peace. We just did not do the necessary cleanup — we tried to build in the mess.

    nk (47858f)

  14. The Times reports on Bush’s campaign efforts as “Bush launches political attack against Democrats”.

    The nerve. I mean, the Democrats have run one of the cleanest, most honest, non-partisan and above-board campaigns in history, eschewing personal attacks and standing shoulder-to-shoulder with America in time of war — and Bush goes and does this. It’s enough to make one think of McCarthy or Hitler or Nero or one of those dead old white guys!

    Kevin Murphy (0b2493)

  15. The nerve. I mean, the Democrats have run one of the cleanest, most honest, non-partisan and above-board campaigns in history, eschewing personal attacks and standing shoulder-to-shoulder with America in time of war — and Bush goes and does this

    They certainly aren’t coordinated about it. Not in this way.

    actus (10527e)

  16. This isn’t an equivocation because everyone knows (now, finally) that Iraq is a sinking ship …

    Really? “Everyone” knows no such thing. I recommend you read some history of the various world wars and our own civil war. It’s been “three whole years” and we haven’t yet turned Iraq into a Jeffersonian democracy. Wow!

    Psy, we still have troops in Korea, Germany and even a small contingent in Japan, among other locations around the world. In all due respect, I don’t believe the defeatest attitude you’ve expressed is helpful or will result in anything but an ultimate precipitous withdrawal from Iraq from which America won’t recover for thirty years, if then.

    Surely no one will trust us for decades. Are you quite ready for the “killing fields” of Iraq? Your attitude will inevitably lead there.

    Harry Arthur (b318a5)

  17. “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me”. If we withdraw from Iraq prematurely and pro-democratic Iraqi’s suffer the fate of those in Southeast Asia, I agree that it will be “Decades” or more before we will have an ally in a military conflict. Unfortunately, I don’t think it will be the same amount of time until we are embroiled in one.

    The publication “The Christian Century” began around 1900, for the upcoming century would be one of brotherly love and virtue, mankind having matured beyond the barbarism of war and revolution- or so it was thought. As we (should) already know, just because the USA vs USSR cold war ended, we should not assume significant military conflicts have ended. Choosing to defend ourselves by isolationism worked when we were isolated. But that was quite a while ago.

    MD in Philly (3d3f72)

  18. Harry, given that “stay the course” is so unpopular, even to republicans, there is no faith in what we’re doing there now. Something’s got to change.

    Why didn’t the scheme work and why will it continue to fail? I believe that Drum has the answer.

    Psyberian (9b3c88)

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