Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Staying the Course

Mills of the gods

My President, and your President, is supposed to make a "substantial" statement today on Iraq. I suppose "substantial" is the word which emerged from the focus group as one which conveys important, but not overwhelming weight to what ever it is the President is going to tell us.

Anyway, the White House has already announced this week that it will no longer use "stay the course" language in talking about Iraq. I suppose the substantial announcement will have something to do with not staying the course. What the President is up to, of course, is to make an announcement that gives some hope to undecideds and disaffected Republicans about the war and causes them to vote next week to return Republican majorities to Congress. I suggest that he used the old Viet Nam term, "light at the end of the tunnel". That one served Lyndon Johnson well for a couple of years, until the oncoming train, which had produced, the light ran him over.

I am very sorry to see that "stay the course" is being retired. The reason being that the phrase was about to get a new meaning in the English language. Last week, the President explained that "stay the course" was always meant to be a flexible concept. I liked that. It seems to me that if "staying the course" is only a flexible concept ,then you have the option of not staying the course, which really renders this whole "stay the course" thing useless. Course are stayed, or they are not stayed. They can't be both.Suppose I am driving from Austin to Dallas, wait, let's make it somewhere I would actually want to visit. Suppose I am driving from Austin to San Diego. It is late, I have been driving for 10 or 12 hours and the wife and child are whining about stopping. I turn to the family and say, "Family, we are going to stay the course."That means we are going to drive until we get to San Diego. It does not mean that we are going to stop in Santa Fe, New Mexico. If I had the slightest thought of being flexible on the subject, I would have said "Family, let's drive awhile and see how we feel, maybe we will stop, and maybe we won't." But I would not have yelled "stay the course" knowing in my head that I meant "be flexible".And I sure would not have yelled it every week for three years knowing that when I said "stay the course" all I meant was "stay the course, maybe".

Still, perhaps I am being too hard. Perhaps I should recognize that after three years your President and my President is finally understanding his own folly and is just trying to save a little face as he tries to do the right thing.Or, now don't call me cynical, it could all be another lie for the sake of the elections and after Republican Majorities are returned to Congress, Bush will tell us that when he said that "stay the course" was flexible, that what he really meant by "fexible" was inflexible !


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