In a White House which leads by slogans, a change in course.
Maureen Dowd, or MoDo to the tragically hip, writes in today's NYTimes:
Things have become so dire for the Republicans that now even Bush is distancing himself from Bush.More here.. (subscription required)
The president is cutting and running from the president.
In a momentous event at the White House on Monday, Tony Snow made a major announcement about an important new strategy for Iraq. The president will no longer stay the course on the rallying cry "stay the course."
A presidency built on message discipline (Message: "Stay the course") is trying to salvage itself with some last-minute un-messaging (Message: "No more stay the course").
Of course, the administration has never really said what "the course" is, so it was never really apparent what "staying" it meant, anyhow.
In a White House with a Fox News all-spin sensibility, officials don’t think they need to change the strategy as much as they need to change their slogan.
Unwilling to admit mistakes or face the urgent need to go past semantic changes in a protectorate that has fallen into a vicious civil war, in which Americans are merely referees and targets, the White House is falling back on marketing. Just as Andy Card rolled out the war as a marketing event, the Bush team now thinks that all it needs to do is come up with a catchy and chesty new advertising pitch.
The Bushes don’t connect words with action. Action is something that’s secretly plotted with the inner circle behind closed doors. The public should stay out of it. The Bushes just connect words with salesmanship. Poppy Bush never meant it when he said “Read my lips: no new taxes” at the 1988 convention. It was just a Clint Eastwood-sounding line in a Peggy Noonan speech, meant to pump up his flighty image.
Just so, his son never paid any mind to his campaign promise not to nation-build, and he didn’t come through on his bullhorn pledge to catch the perpetrators of 9/11 or his tough-guy vow to bring in Osama dead or alive.
To W., the words he says to Americans don’t matter as much as the words Dick Cheney says to him. He just has to hope that daddy’s friend, James Baker, the smooth fixer who is co-chairman of the Iraq Study Group and who has already suggested moving past the meaningless partisan jargon of “cut and run” and “stay the course,” comes up with a plan to rescue Junior from a fine mess one more time.
Bush has been thumping the podium, leaning over and jutting his chin out and saying that the solution is to stay the course up until just yesterday. He's also become fond of bobbing his head over the podium and accusing Dems of wanting a timetable for withdrawal and saying that was clearly nothing but "cut and run".
Well, in an administration which clearly thinks it's more important to churn out ad slogans as a substitute for actual policy, let alone results, Bush has now performed a whopping example of what his own party would call a flip-flop of major proportions. (Or are they hypocrites? Nah..)
Bush stated, "...listen, we've never been 'stay the course'", a blatant lie backed up by some outlets showing edited tapes showing him saying it dozens of times.
Tony Snow said they weren't using the term anymore because it didn't reflect the "dynamic" nature of their strategy in Iraq. Uh. OK.
If that's a bit confusing, let's allow the commander in chief to clear it up for us.
"The characterization of, you know, 'It's 'stay the course' is about a quarter right," he 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."There, that should clear it all up.
CBS's Dick Myers notes that Bush is giving doublespeak a bad name.
The most effective and common type of Democratic advertising has shown bloody pictures, body counts and ominous music over sound bites of the president saying "stay the course' and the candidate saying, no, we need a new course, a new direction.And after rolling out a full-scale tub-thumping campaign to tar the Dems as "cut and runners" for even entertaining the idea of some sort of phased withrawal on a timetable, the Pentagon now says that they're going to look into establishing a timetable for creating a blueprint for a timeline for planning a withdrawal from Iraq... or something that sounds an awful like what Bush and his lackeys have been assuring us was "cut and run".
"Stay the course" became a negative that implied an ostrich-like imperviousness to reality. But the president and his marketing team didn't just dump the slogan; they denied the slogan ever existed.
Because not staying the course with "stay the course" would mean you're a cut and runner. Americans aren't cut and run guys. Cut and run guys aren't resolve guys and the president is a resolve guy.
The audaciousness of this is offensive. Actually, it's insulting.
So now that "Stay the course" is no longer "operational", as they say, what should replace it?
Cut and stay?
Duck and cover?
Stay and pray?