According to our President and Commander in Chief, “Stay the course” in Iraq no longer means “stay the course”. In fact, according to an interview with President Bush broadcast on ABC’s This Week with George Stephanopoulos, our president asserted, “We’ve never been stay the course.”
A search of the White House web site alone shows that the President used the phrase at least eighteen times. Of course, the American public knows all about “stay the course” now. It has become drubbed into our brains, and like a catchy but annoying Top 40 song, we cannot get it out of our mind. It resonates like a loud bongo drum. Twenty years from now when someone uses the phrase, instead of suggesting steadiness, it will imply rampant and reckless bullheadedness. The unwelcome image of George W. Bush will pop in our heads.
Nevertheless, since our President now decrees that his White House has never said stay the course, it must be time for the Ministry of Truth to start scrubbing the record. This will be a challenge. Moreover, since Republicans in particular seem to have a problem with ambiguity, it leaves the obvious question. Why do Republicans in Congress want the terrorists to win?
I mean I am just shocked by what has been coming out of the mouths of heretofore-stalwart Republicans these last few weeks. No less than my own Senator George Allen of Virginia, in a tight reelection bid (one recent poll shows his rival Jim Webb marginally ahead), wants to change strategies in Iraq. “We can’t expect to keep doing the same things and get different results,” he said recently, even though a month earlier on Meet the Press he said, “Staying the course means that we don’t tuck tail and run, that we don’t retreat, that we don’t surrender.”
Senator Allen, you are either with staying the course no matter how stupid and counterproductive it is, or you must want the terrorists win. It is that simple really. No shades of grey are allowed in the War on Terror. So what is with all this sudden murkiness? Such murkiness is the hallmark of those dreaded tax and spend pussy whipped Democrats.
In fact, there is a long list of Republicans in Congress who want to change the course in Iraq. Some are calling for troop withdrawal. Coincidentally, most of them are running for reelection. In fact, soon you may have to start looking under rocks to find Republicans who still want to stay the course.
It has taken Republicans a while to figure it out, but they are finally realizing that staying the course means something even worse than letting the terrorists win: they will be voted out of office. All that message consistency apparently only works as long as the public buys into it. For some reason, probably because the massive civil war underway in Iraq is impossible to tune out and American casualties there keep accelerating, the American public no longer buys it. The American people overwhelmingly want to change the course in Iraq. The polls are consistent. For example, this recent ABC News-Washington Post poll indicates that 57% of Americans say the War in Iraq was not worth fighting and 55% blame the Republicans. It is the number one issue that respondents say will drive them to the polls in less than two weeks.
Okay, so let us agree for a moment that those of us who want to change the course in Iraq maybe do not want the terrorists to win after all. I know it is hard for me to get my mind around it. After all, a couple years ago when I expressed this sentiment someone left an “America: Love it or Leave It” note on my car’s windshield. Naturally, with this sort of peer pressure, I thought I must have unwittingly been supporting al Qaeda. Does wanting to change the course now mean that I was patriotic all along? Does this mean that those who want to continue to stay the course now want the terrorists to win?
Or could this just indicate that following the same failed strategy demonstrates not just stubbornness, but stupidity? Maybe it means that the American people are now wide-awake, and recognize there is no simple solution to this complicated situation. Maybe now that we have had our national chin karmically kicked in a few times by reality, we understand what does not work, and are amenable to trying something else.
The voters will give the politicians firm guidance on November 7th. Stay tuned.