Yesterday, during George Bush's news conference, the president did not say "stay the course" or "we will not step down until the Iraqis step up." Instead, he spoke of "benchmarks." Over and over he used the term, leaving me to question what standards he'll exercise to measure his continued failures. The other word Bush repeated was "believe." He said it 21 times. "I believe." Sounds quite Biblical as well as Karl Rovian. Of course, Karl is the manlike agnostic who tells George to convince his base of evangelicals that he (Bush) really, really, really believes.
According to Bob Woodward in a 60 Minutes interview conducted by Mike Wallace, the president has stated to Republicans that he will not withdraw from Iraq even if "Barney and Laura are the only ones who support me." From the number of e-mails I've received from the "disagreeables," those people who are reading my articles and asking me in Sean Hannityesque fervor why I hate America, I have to admit that several more among the animal kingdom, in addition to Barney-the-dog and Laura-the-wife, remain loyal in buttressing George. They really, really, really believe in Bush and the way he is "fighting them over there so we don't have to fight them over here."
Mr. Fixit, James Baker, III, the man who has historically shored up George, is talking huge changes in Iraq. He sees the writing in blood that's all over the wall. But Bush will not waver from his "stay the course" even though he is no longer articulating it this way. No. He will be resolute-until after the midterm elections. To change now would be to admit that he's been wrong.
Tragically, by the time the votes are counted, many more troops will have died. Many more Iraqis will have perished as well. But Bush can maintain his determined, tough-guy image and, then, blame politics for his failures of epic proportion.
Because the man always must point the finger away from himself.