October 24, 2006

Stay the course!

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:
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."

38 comments:

Daryl Herbert said...

Bush said "stay the course," but that's never been his policy...

Let me be the first: BUSH LIED!!!

Is Bush trying to sabotage the Republican Congressional candidates, or is he trying to help them?

TW: mgayr

AllenS said...

Is staying the course, staying the course? Well, it guess it all depends on the meaning of the word is, is.

Goesh said...

It would be best to immediately withdraw from Iraq and let Iran assert its considerable influence in all of Southern Iraq with its considerable oil reserves. Once the Iranian mullahs don't feel threatened by Americans in Iraq and can augment their coffers with Iraqi oil revenue and attain nuclear weapons, they will not have a need to expand their influence and control. They will give up the notion of an Islamic caliphate in that region of the world. Once the Shias feel safe under the wing of their Iranian big brother, they will not feel a need for revenge against the Sunnis either for the many years of oppression under saddam hussein. All will be well. The Democrats can easily negotiate this because as we all know, islam is truly a religion of peace. There would be little violence over there if it wasn't for Bush and the Republicans. Our national focus needs to be on stem cell research, abortion and gay marriage. Give peace a chance, vote the Democratic ticket from top to bottom.

George said...

I read yesterday that there are not one, not two, but three U.S. Navy carrier battle groups in the Persian Gulf—the Enterprise, the Eisenhower, and something called a Marine 'expeditionary' flotilla.

I think they stay the course by zig-zagging.

Helps avoid enemy fire, particularly near election time.

Freder Frederson said...

It would be best to immediately withdraw from Iraq and let Iran assert its considerable influence in all of Southern Iraq with its considerable oil reserves.

While your sarcasm is noted and appreciated (so many people who post on this site just don't seem to get it), it misses the point. "Stay the course" (sorry, that phrase has never been uttered by this administration and the choco ration is being raised to 35 grams) has been a disasterous policy. By constantly insisting that every event (the death of Saddam's sons, the capture of Saddam, each round of elections, the death of Zarqawi) is the turning point only to see the corner not turned yet still contend everything is fine and dandy and no adjustments need be made the administration is ignoring the reality on the ground and lying to itself and the American people.

Even now, as the Administration shows signs of abadoning "stay the course" (or rather insisting that was never the policy) you continue to cling to the false dichotomy that the president has touted--that there are only two options in Iraq: "stay the course" or "cut and run".

As for your very real and very scary scenario about Iran taking over Southern Iraq if we leave. Don't you think the Administration should have considered that before they decided to invade?

MadisonMan said...

I notice the Establish Democracy in Iraq mantra is getting less and less lip time as well.

I've often wondered if Press Secretarys are embarrassed by the things their bosses make them say. But I guess they're paid enough for any embarrassment.

Michael Farris said...

Must we stay the course or have we never been 'stay the course'?

Being a Bush supporter is hard work.

Michael Farris said...

"Don't you think the Administration should have considered that before they decided to invade?"

It would have been nice (along with assuming there would be an insurgency and planning for it rather than being caught by surprise that those aren't flowers they're throwing after all).

Derve said...

It would be funny,
fighting a war with words, if so many soldiers and civilians weren't being slaughtered over there. With more to come

Once you connect the two -- the leadership and the workers -- it's kinda sickening.

Glad you put it up here though; I wonder if INstaPundit will link...

peter hoh said...

He can run but he can't hide. Mission Accomplished. Bring 'em on. Stay the Course.

Four more years!!

Derve said...

*waving my index purple finger for moral support. As if that contributes a damn. Where are you now, they must be wondering of us*

Derve said...

Someday we'll realize the tearing down is the easy part. The rebuilding and the holding it precariously together takes a wide array of contributions from everyone you can muster.

And knowing this is why you hold off on changing things too rapidly, destroying too much at once before you have the capability of replacing and rebuilding with equal or better.

Ricardo said...

With apologies to Will M. Hough, and Frank R. Adams ....

"I wonder who's flip-flopping now?
Wonder who's teaching him how?
Wonder who's looking into our eyes
Breathing sighs, telling lies?
I wonder who's flip-flopping now?"

Goesh said...

Of course in gazing at the crystal ball and knowing the Democrat/Liberal inability to fight as we do, the trade-off for Iran essentially getting the South is for the Kurds to have autonomy and statehood in the north. Surely you don't think the Kurds would sit by passively and allow Iran to control the South without some gurantees, do you? Kurdish assertion will totally alienate the NATO ally Turkey and will seriously bump the price of crude going north much to the disgust and dismay of the EU and their weak economies, and this still leaves a nuclear Iran. What to do!? Oh dear! Think of the contamination if Iran's nuclear sites were taken out - all those grotesque children with oozing skin! If we can't ourselves bleed and die in Iraq, we certainly can't expect civilians to do so in Iran, even for the price depriving islamofacists from having nukes, now can we my lovely pacifists and peace mongers? No, no and you must convince yourselves that a quick withdrawal from Iraq will also convince all the newly arisen terrorists in Iraq to remain there. They must be content, by your logic and utter lack of tactical insight, to quit going after Americans, anywhere, once the evil ones are out of Iraq - right? You have wanted to kill fish in the barrel, and Bush has been an easy target, but have had to climb into the barrel yourselves and haven't yet realized it. Good luck with your domestic agendas given such dire, external unfinished business. Talks with NK anyone? Maybe the madman can be bought off for a year or two,eh? Sabre rattling with Iran once they begin to assist the Egyptian Brotherhood to destablize the Mubarak regime? Hmm? Oh oh! there goes the Suez canal rates of passage, we wouldn't want angry muslim fundamentalists with artillery sitting on the banks of the canal, now would we? Iran could be reaonsable if we just had something to really offer them besides our deaths, right fellas? You've truly fucked with a Texas oil man and you actually think he is going to leave you a clean slate when he leaves? Go ahead and pout and keep pointing the finger of blame, it's all you've got.

quietnorth said...

I am sure the phrase "Stay the Course" has been tested by a focus group. At first it went over well, so it was set out as a simple talking point. Focus group testing probably changed as people became aware of how badly things were going. So, now, no more "staying the course". A new focus group

dreamingmonkey said...

How about "you can't unscramble an egg?"

Or else Bush should resort to the widsom of Jack Handy: "In the right circumstances, any man can become a murderer. But not any man can be a good camper. That's what makes murdering and camping different, despite what you might think."

Fenrisulven said...

'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."

He's trying [sigh] to say that "stay the course" means remaining true to our objectives in Iraq, not the methods used to acheive those objectives. We're using different strategies for different instances, some have worked well while others have not. A strong prosperous democratic Iraq is the key to reforming the Middle East. If we fail there, we better prepare for a Holy War between Islam and the West. A Holy War that includes suicide bombers and nukes.

Derve said...

Goesh: Can you diagram a little of that for us? Thx.

Derve said...

If we fail there, we better prepare for a Holy War between Islam and the West. A Holy War that includes suicide bombers and nukes.

Be prepared always.
Never get too cocky.
Know your enemies.
Anticipate not only your moves, but theirs, and give them a way out, if necessary.

See the words are easy, Fenrisulven. Like shouting a cheer. Getting it done with what you've scraped together at the time... more a true victory.

MadisonMan said...

A strong prosperous democratic Iraq is the key to reforming the Middle East.

That, I agree, is the goal. I see little that the administration has done in the past 4 years to achieve that goal. Result: Disarray. One might hope that there is something going on that is not publicized that will steer things away from the abyss. I'm not hopeful for that possibility, however. Given the upcoming election, I think anything positive would have been publicized by some of the Republican politicians running scared for their very (political) lives. Absence of progress is not proof of no progress, however.

Fenrisulven said...

I see little that the administration has done in the past 4 years to achieve that goal.

Thats an incredible statement. Is the Tyrant not deposed and on trial? Is there a consitution? Is there a coalition government? How many elections has Iraq had? How many have turned out to vote?

And you say "nothing" ??

Sure, there is still violence and unresolved problems. But I think the Left has been too negative, I think they want us to fail, so they can blame Bush for political points. I think if POTUS was Dem the MSM would be highlighting all the good news about Iraq [which you have to go to mil blogs to get] instead of the reverse.

Derve said...

And you say "nothing" ?? Sure, there is still violence and unresolved problems.

It's the end score that matters, don't you think? Give us faith that we're all looking at that, and not just throwing flames in the blog comments here.

If our country and the coalition were achieving, strongly united, and confident with the current course, we probably wouldn't be honestly discussing where things are at and constructively criticizing. Whether here it's the word context, or over there, it's the words in action.

Fenrisulven said...

Derve: Give us faith that we're all looking at that, and not just throwing flames in the blog comments here.

Fair enough. After four years of being harped, nit-picked, and Monday-morning quaterbacked from the Left, I'll chill a bit and assume those on the Left here will debate Iraq in good faith:

What would you do differently in Iraq, other than leave? Seriously, what are your ideas? More troops? Partitioning in three regions? Installing a Saudi-like strongman?

MadisonMan said...

And you say "nothing" ??

Actually, I said little. It's not clear to me how your list of things makes Iraq strong and properous. Democratic, perhaps.

peter hoh said...

Fen, you're prepping to lay the blame on second-guessing from the Left? How about the abysmal post-invasion planning from the administration?

aaron said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
aaron said...

Stay the course is rhetoric the president used to give assurance to people in the middle-east. It doesn't mean that our tactics don't change, just that we will not abandon them.

Common fucking sense.

I think this could bite the democrats in the ass. A simple add stating this would sink any democrat "Stay the course" add.

Michael Farris said...

"Stay the course is rhetoric the president used"

Except now he's trying to say it's not rhetoric he used: "We've Never Been Stay The Course"

Diagram _that_, English fans

Ghost said...

The problem with the phrase "stay the course" is that most people don't understand what the phrase means. It means to persist or see a job though to the end, not to keep doing the exact same thing. Random House gives the definition as "to persevere; endure to completion."

The Word Detective (www.word-detective.com) gives a bit of data on where the phrase comes from:

"To stay the course," in current usage, means "to stand firm in pursuing a goal or course of action, to persevere in the face of whatever challenges or obstacles one may encounter." The use of "stay" in the phrase can be, as you note, a bit confusing, since "to stay" can mean "to stop, arrest or check" (as in "stay of execution," in which a court issues a legal "stay" to stop an action), as well as "to continue or persist in a place or condition" (as in "stay calm"). But we're definitely seeing "stay" in the "persist" sense here.

"To stay the course" is often thought to be a nautical metaphor, and one can easily imagine a stalwart captain instructing a wavering helmsman to "Stay the course!" in the face of a stormy sea.

But the first use of the phrase in print, in 1885, comes from another sort of "course," the racetrack. "To stay the course" in this sense referred to the ability of a horse to endure the race and reach the finish line, preferably in a winning position. By 1916, however, the phrase had been adopted by politicians, and we've been urged to "stay the course" ever since.

peter hoh said...

Ghost, I thought only pointy-headed liberals blamed the people for being stupid.

Personally, I think most people are capable of understanding what "Stay the course" actually means. Yes, it is not a description of tactics. Never was and never will be.

George said...

"The analysts write about war as if it's a ballet. Yes, it's choreographed, and what happens is the orchestra starts playing and some son of a bitch climbs out of the orchestra pit with a bayonet and starts chasing you around the stage. And the choreography goes right out the window."

-Gen. Schwarzkopf

Freder Frederson said...

Fair enough. After four years of being harped, nit-picked, and Monday-morning quaterbacked from the Left, I'll chill a bit and assume those on the Left here will debate Iraq in good faith:

I'm not second guessing anyone. I have been against the war in Iraq from before day one. I couldn't believe that Bush would invade Iraq (and that Congress would allow him to do it) when we hadn't even begun to stabilize the situation in Afghanistan or captured Bin Laden. Everything that has happened in Iraq is exactly as I predicted it would be--the insurgency, the level of American casualties, the slow motion breaking of the American military.

So don't expect me to figure out how to fix Bush's extreme fuck up now. Two years ago there may have been a way out. Now I don't know if there is a workable answer that won't be really, really horrible.

It's just that bad.

Daryl Herbert said...

As for your very real and very scary scenario about Iran taking over Southern Iraq if we leave. Don't you think the Administration should have considered that before they decided to invade?

That's crazy talk. That's like saying we didn't have a post-invasion plan, even though we spent months on a political campaign to get the invasion. Of course the administration considered that, and of course Rumsfeld had a plan--because the alternative is too scary.

sorry, that phrase has never been uttered by this administration and the choco ration is being raised to 35 grams

That was my exact first thought, as well.

I wasn't joking when I asked if Bush was intentionally sabotaging Republican congressional candidates. It's weeks before the election and he's suddenly deciding to re-evaluate everything in Iraq.

There are two (closely related) motives for Bush wanting Dems to take over:

1 - if Republicans hold both houses, there will be intense pressure for Dems to take both branches of gov't in 2008

2 - if Democrats take both houses, Bush can let them pull us out of Iraq, and then try to blame them for the ensuing chaos.

I really hope I'm wrong about this.

Derve said...

I suspect eventual partitioning, Frenrisuliven. That is what I personally predict the people there will eventually "choose" and be able to maintain through their actions.

If our politicians, after this election, would only try to stop winning support through talk and be realistic with what areas can truly secured. If the British are leaving, that is a good time to regroup and I suspect we will see that with American troops maintaining order in smaller but more select areas. It won't be called "cut and run", just strategically supporting certain parts of the country(ies) to protect industry and resources as determined necessary by our experts. Other than that, no American presence, at all, in other areas with no intervention in local violence. (much like we see today, only more concentrated American presence with more limited objectives.) We'll eventually declare the locals trained, and get out of certain areas altogether. I see this effort as being presented as a bipartisan plan, and an admission by all of lesser ambitions. Coming within a year/ year and a half of the elections regardless of how these upcoming elections turn out. (if GOP maintains full contol, or if they are forced to share power)*
--------
*(My own opinions/expectations of what's to come, fwiw, to answer a question. Just an expectation of what's to come; I'm sure your own thoughts and ideas about the future vary)

WV: myvuust

Derve said...

Summed up, I see:

strategic withdrawal
from certain provinces/cities
with troop reinforcement in greater concentrations in others,
but not sold under the "cut and run" banner.

More independence for ethnicities to self rule in those other areas with no illusion of American support, other than private economic investment or humanitarian aid. (US government financial support coming via payments only -- not American military presence in those regions) Does the violence in these places then subside, or flare up and burn with intervention from other regional powers (as mentioned upthread)? Whether it should be or not, I suspect we'll take a hands-off approach to certain regions very soon, though hopefully maintaining intelligence connections there and keeping a close eye on what's going on, but with no direct American efforts to intervene. No matter what.

*Here and I hoped this would help simplify what is coming over there, imo, when people automatically ask these days what your plan is when you indirectly challenge their words. This is not so much my plan, but my honest prediction on how things will shake out based on what I see now and have seen over the past years.* I pray we don't see a large scale attack, a la Beirut, before what I suspect we will eventually do gets underway but we really should be aware that anything may happen and not to get too lulled into complacency with what is occuring right now over there.

Sorry it got long.

Fenrisulven said...

peter: Fen, you're prepping to lay the blame on second-guessing from the Left? How about the abysmal post-invasion planning from the administration?

Could you be more specific? What "abysmal" planning, and what would you have done differently?

peter hoh said...

What would I have done differently? I would have listened to military planners.

http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/archives/individual/2006_09/009469.php

Shortly after the invasion of Afghanistan, [Brigadier General Mark Scheid] says, Donald Rumsfeld told his team to start planning for war in Iraq, but not to bother planning for a long stay:

"The secretary of defense continued to push on us ... that everything we write in our plan has to be the idea that we are going to go in, we're going to take out the regime, and then we're going to leave," Scheid said. "We won't stay."

Scheid said the planners continued to try "to write what was called Phase 4," or the piece of the plan that included post-invasion operations like occupation.

Even if the troops didn't stay, "at least we have to plan for it," Scheid said.

"I remember the secretary of defense saying that he would fire the next person that said that," Scheid said. "We would not do planning for Phase 4 operations, which would require all those additional troops that people talk about today.

"He said we will not do that because the American public will not back us if they think we are going over there for a long war."

...."In his own mind he thought we could go in and fight and take out the regime and come out. But a lot of us planners were having a real hard time with it because we were also thinking we can't do this. Once you tear up a country you have to stay and rebuild it. It was very challenging."

Freder Frederson said...

Could you be more specific? What "abysmal" planning, and what would you have done differently?

True, "abysmal planning" presumes that there was at least some plan, albeit abysmal. What is increasingly obvious was there was no planning at all, abysmal or otherwise, for a long term occupation and rebuilding.

And now the problem is that there is no strategy to win and no strategic goal. Go back and listen to any answer Bush gives when he is queried about strategy in Iraq. He answers the question by discussing tactics. He either has no idea what the word "strategy" means or simply doesn't have a strategy for winning in Iraq. Either one is damn scary.