President Bush and his aides are annoyed that people keep misinterpreting his Iraq policy as "stay the course." A complete distortion, they say. "That is not a stay-the-course policy," White House press secretary Tony Snow declared yesterday.
Where would anyone have gotten that idea? Well, maybe from Bush.
"We will stay the course. We will help this young Iraqi democracy succeed," he said in Salt Lake City in August.
"We will win in Iraq so long as we stay the course," he said in Milwaukee in July.
"I saw people wondering whether the United States would have the nerve to stay the course and help them succeed," he said after returning from Baghdad in June....
"What you have is not 'stay the course' but in fact a study in constant motion by the administration," Snow said yesterday....
Bush used "stay the course" until recent weeks when it became clear that it was becoming a political problem. "The characterization of, you know, 'it's stay the course' is about a quarter right," Bush complained at an Oct. 11 news conference. " 'Stay the course' means keep doing what you're doing. My attitude is: Don't do what you're doing if it's not working -- change. 'Stay the course' also means don't leave before the job is done."
By last week, it was no longer a quarter right. "Listen, we've never been stay the course, George," he told George Stephanopoulos of ABC News. "We have been -- we will complete the mission, we will do our job and help achieve the goal, but we're constantly adjusting the tactics. Constantly."
Snow said Bush dropped the phrase "because it left the wrong impression about what was going on. And it allowed critics to say, 'Well, here's an administration that's just embarked upon a policy and not looking at what the situation is,' when, in fact, it's just the opposite."
October 24, 2006
Don't you have to stay the course about staying the course? The WaPo has what should become a classic in the annals of political rhetoric: