Bush speech: US press reaction

I don't know why the press continues to call these speeches. They are ads as part of pscyh ops designed to sell Bush's Iraq policy. I wonder if he had much if anything to do with the ads creation. The operatives have concluded the term "victory" is inoperative and no longer has a positive emotive connotation in the context of Iraq and so have replaced it with "success". "Stay the course" is another pro-emotive term that is a casualty of the Iraq war. Staying the course is precisely what Bush is doing but it can no longer be said.
This article gives a representative sampling of snippets but there is no depth to it.

Bush speech: US press reaction
The press in the United States weighs the impact of President Bush's prime-time televised speech in which he backed a limited withdrawal of US troops from Iraq.

Some view the Bush plan less risky than the alternatives

A number of newspapers note that Mr Bush was playing to several audiences, both in the US and in Iraq.

Some commentators pick up on a shift in the president's language with his emphasis on "success" rather than "victory".

Several articles also draw out the likely impact of Mr Bush's plans on next year's presidential race.

For more than four years since the invasion of Iraq, President Bush most often has defined his objective there with a single, stirring word: "Victory."

But this week, the word "victory" disappeared from the president's lexicon. It was replaced by a slightly more ambiguous goal: "Success."...

Bush's description of his war aims reflected two hard realities about his position on Iraq.

First, a large majority of the American public does not believe "victory" is possible. Dozens of opinion polls have found that fewer than 40% of voters think the war can be won.

Second, the men who are running the war - Army Gen David H Petraeus and US Ambassador Ryan C Crocker - made it clear this week that their immediate goals were more limited than "victory."...

Bush's target was not so much his opposition in the Democratic Party as the increasing number of war critics in his own Republican Party.

With this year's "surge" of US forces and this week's testimony by Gen David Petraeus, President Bush is getting what he wants on Iraq: More time.

Despite predictions after last year's election setbacks that he would have no choice but to reduce troop levels and limit the US mission, Bush continues to stake his presidency on the chance for a military and political turnaround in Iraq before he leaves office...

Bush's tone was determinedly positive. He used versions of the word "success" 10 times and of the word "progress" six times...

So far, the Democratic-controlled Congress hasn't been able to muster enough Republican votes to break a Senate filibuster and pass legislation that would force Bush to change course. Petraeus' unflappable demeanor and the reduction of violence in Anbar province and elsewhere has stanched the erosion of Republican support for now.

President Bush addressed three very different audiences (the American public, the Iraqi government and the insurgents) and he had to hope that each would hear a different message...

Mr Bush's speech was the culmination of a month long, highly orchestrated game plan to change the political debate in Washington and the country. But in the end, the speech once again raised the question of what America's mission in Iraq really is - and how long it will last.

Last night's speech could have been given any day in the last four years - and was delivered a half-dozen times already...

Once again, it is clear that President Bush refuses to recognize the truth of his failure in Iraq and envisions a military commitment that has no end...

The presidential candidates, as well, have a duty to take Iraq head-on. Democrats have started to talk in some detail about how they would end the war but the burden is not just on the war critics.

Republicans like Rudolph Giuliani and John McCain, who love to proclaim their support for the president and hide behind his troops, need to explain their vision as well.

President Bush last night said the US military's success in Iraq has made it possible to begin withdrawing some troops but noted that future withdrawals will be based on continued success and renewed his call on Iraqi leaders to take control of their country...

Mr Bush sought to cast the current moment in Iraq as a turning point in the war, and even in US history, and exhorted critics not to give up.

President Bush's explanation of his latest plans for Iraq last night was marred by a couple of important omissions.

First, the president failed to acknowledge that, according to the standards he himself established in January, the surge of US. troops into Iraq has been a failure - because Iraqi political leaders did not reach the political accords that the sacrifice of American lives was supposed to make possible...

Mr Bush also failed to mention one of the principal reasons for the drawdown of troops... that the Pentagon has no choice other than to carry out the withdrawals, unless Mr Bush resorts to politically explosive steps such as further extending deployments...

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 US troops will "return on success" in order to accept the judgment of Mr. Crocker: "Our current course is hard. The alternatives are far worse."

President George W Bush's decision to give a major speech on Iraq in prime time Thursday night made sense on one level. The news has been relatively positive for a change, what with the stabilization in Anbar province and parts of Baghdad...

But Bush's trumpeting of what he called a "return on success" could end up backfiring. Bringing the war into America's living rooms is never a safe political bet. And if news of a slow drawdown may be popular, Bush himself still is not.


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