On Thursday night, he talked about “success,” not victory, and suggested that the road ahead would be inching, province-by-province progress that would ultimately allow the United States to focus on training Iraqi units, pursuing Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia and containing Iran....
“He wanted to frame this week about a choice,” said Peter Feaver, a former senior official on the National Security Council who helped draft the troop increase strategy and has returned to teach at Duke University. “One choice is a withdrawal driven by progress on the ground, and it will be slower than you want. Or you can have withdrawals based on partisan politics, and the results will be faster, but the consequences more dire.”
In framing the debate that way, Mr. Bush appears, at least for now, to have changed the dynamic in Congress. Democrats like the Senate majority leader, Harry Reid, who a few weeks ago was dismissing plans for gradual drawdowns as “weak tea,” are now talking about trying to legislate slower timetables.
ADDED: Here's the NYT editorial on the speech:
[H]is only real plan is to confuse enough Americans and cow enough members of Congress to let him muddle along and saddle his successor with this war that should never have been started.
AND: Compare the Washington Post:
Mr. Bush's plan offers, at least, the prospect of extending recent gains against al-Qaeda in Iraq, preventing full-scale sectarian war and allowing Iraqis more time to begin moving toward a new political order. For that reason, it is preferable to a more rapid withdrawal. It's not necessary to believe the president's promise that U.S. troops will "return on success" in order to accept the judgment of Mr. Crocker: "Our current course is hard. The alternatives are far worse."