It’s the former, of course. We can never achieve total victory. But that’s not politically popular thing to say. It’s sort of like saying “no election will ever be perfect.” Totally true, but don’t say it in public!! It was a remarkable moment of clarity when he said it, but now that moment is gone.
I refer to my previous comment, which included this link. These kinds of foot-in-mouth problems would be more successfully avoided if the war was properly labeled the “war on Islamo-fascism”.
Malkin has a relevant point:
Could Bush have been clearer? Sure. Terror is a tactic, not the enemy. You can’t win against “it”–and certainly not in four years. That’s what he was getting at when he stressed the word “it” in the interview (the verbal emphasis is not obvious by simply reading the transcript). And, as Bush was obviously arguing, you can’t set a date for when the war against al Qaeda and other Islamic militants is going to be won.
Notwithstanding Edwards’ yelping and the liberal media machinations, and judging from Kerry’s own ramblings on the subject, Kerry and Bush have the exact same position on this point.
Update: … An excerpt from Jeff’s post:
“They will hide and they will morph. We will prevail. We will survive. We will succeed. But we won’t ‘win’ against every terrorist and we should not fool ourselves to think that that day at the surrender table will ever come.”
That should go in the talking points of both presidential candidates.
It’s a different kind of war, that needs to be stressed. Unfortunately, Bush did a poor job of communicating that yesterday, despite his numerous previous statements that made it clear where he stood on the subject, and today he’s facing the heat for it.
“I would not say that the future is necessarily less predictable than the past. I think the past was not predictable when it started.”
“We do know of certain knowledge that he [Osama Bin Laden] is either in Afghanistan, or in some other country, or dead.”
“I believe what I said yesterday. I don’t know what I said, but I know what I think, and, well, I assume it’s what I said.”
“Reports that say that something hasn’t happened are always interesting to me, because as we know, there are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns — the ones we don’t know we don’t know.“
“If I said yes, that would then suggest that that might be the only place where it might be done which would not be accurate, necessarily accurate. It might also not be inaccurate, but I’m disinclined to mislead anyone.”
“There’s another way to phrase that and that is that the absence of evidence is not the evidence of absence. It is basically saying the same thing in a different way. Simply because you do not have evidence that something does exist does not mean that you have evidence that it doesn’t exist.”
“Well, um, you know, something’s neither good nor bad but thinking makes it so, I suppose, as Shakespeare said.”
“If I know the answer I’ll tell you the answer, and if I don’t, I’ll just respond, cleverly.”
HEE HEE HEE! Thanks A. This is why Rummy mustn’t Resign over Abu Graib etc. Who else can we get for a SecDef who is such a Great Communicator? :)
“I refer to my previous comment…” I, too, “prefer to contemplate the eloquence of my previous remarks” (apologies to WFB Jr. :), to which I dunno how to Link such that you come up at just the right place in the Comments but they are somewhere below Andrew’s on that prior Thread. (“I would refer the Right Honorable Gentleman to the answer I gave some moments ago.” - formulaic response, Prime Minister’s Question Time. :)
Personally, I don’t think “Bush did a poor job of communicating that yesterday”; I read what he said and I think I got it OK.
The apparent flip-floppery is at least partly a creation of The Media. Yer Man (for once :) says a reasonably thoughtful & nuanced thing; headlines & ledes & cablenews bites are generated, boiling it down to ‘Bush Says We Can’t Win’; Johnnyboy Edwards lets go his Triallawyer Balloon emblazoned with the D-word, “Defeatism”; more Headlines pop up; etc. / Bunk.
There’s no FlipFlop here. We can legitmately argue over whether Bush’s strategy, of Democracy-backed-by-Muscle-cures-all, is sound & realistic; but it is a strategy. And no, it’s not New.
“It’s sort of like saying ‘no election will ever be perfect.’ Totally true, but don’t say it in public!!”
Too Late. I already did. Yes, my taped interview airs on Dan Rather tomorrow night. :) They already leaked it to CT SOTS, so they tried to Fire me. When I reminded ‘em I’m retired, boy were they pissed. Said Well yer fired anyway. :) WAW haw haw haw… :) (Actually, the Perfect Election may now be within CT’s reach. Because, you see: I Retired. :)
I think Kerry and/or Bush should dodge the flip-flop charge by having some fun with it and winning some hip-hop votes, too. My recommendation: They should do a Weird Al-style parody of “Rapper’s Delight”:
I said a flip, flop, the flippie, the flippie to the flip flip flop, a you dont stop the rock it to the bang bang boogie say up jumped the boogie to the rhythm of the boogie, the beat
RUSH: Let’s talk about the American Legion convention. I watched your speech there this morning, and the Democrats are harping on something you said yesterday, or that was aired yesterday on the Today Show with Matt Lauer about your comment about we can’t win it, meaning the war on terror. I think I know what you meant but John Edwards is out there saying (paraphrased), “A-ha! Bush is now flip-flopping, and we, John Kerry and I, we can win this, and Bush is…” What did you mean by this?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, I appreciate you bringing that up. Listen, I should have made my point more clear about what I meant. What I meant was that this is not a conventional war. It is a different kind of war. We’re fighting people who have got a dark ideology who use terrorists, terrorism, as a tool. They’re trying to shake our conscience. They’re trying to shake our will, and so in the short run the strategy has got to be to find them where they lurk. I tell people all the time, “We will stay on the on the offense. We will bring them to justice in foreign lands so we don’t have to face them here at home,” and that’s because you cannot negotiate with these people. And in a conventional war there would be a peace treaty or there would be a moment where somebody would sit on the side and say we quit. That’s not the kind of war we’re in, and that’s what I was saying. The kind of war we’re in requires, you know, steadfast resolve, and I will continue to be resolved to bring them to justice, but as well as to spread liberty. And this is one of the interesting points of the debate, Rush, is that, you know, I believe societies can be transformed because of liberty, and I believe that Iraq and Afghanistan will be free nations, and I believe that those free nations right there in the heart of the Middle East will begin to transform that region into a more hopeful place, which in itself will be a detriment to the ability to these terrorists to recruit — and that’s what I was saying. I probably needed to be a little more articulate.
RUSH: Well, it’s like saying that they’re all over the world. You’re not fighting a country here, a series of countries. You’re fighting a movement that will hide out anywhere it can, and you’re always going to have a renegade terrorist. Even if, let’s say, we wipe out Al-Qaeda. There’s some other group or individual that may spring up and blow up a bomb somewhere. That’s always going to happen because it always has.
THE PRESIDENT: Right. Really what I was saying to Lauer was, is that this is not the kind of war where you sit down and sign a peace treaty. It’s a totally different kind of war. But we will win it. Your listeners have got to know that I know we’ll win it, but we’re going to have to be resolved and firm, and we can’t doubt what we stand for, and the long-term solution is to spread freedom. I love to tell the story, Rush, about a meeting with Prime Minister Koizumi. He’s my friend. He’s the prime minister of Japan. It wasn’t all that long ago that my dad, your dad, and others dads were fighting against the Japanese, but because after World War II we believed that Japan could self-govern and could be democratic in its own fashion, Japan is no longer an enemy; it’s a friend, and so I sit down with him to help resolve issues like the North Korean peninsula. In other words, we’re working together to keep the peace. The same thing is going to happen in Iraq and Afghanistan, and that’s when I say the transformational power of liberty. That’s what I’m talking about.
RUSH: Well, I remember you also said in one of your first speeches after the 9/11 attacks that this is going to go maybe beyond one or even two terms that you might serve.
THE PRESIDENT: I think so. On the other hand, we’re making great progress. Today at the Legion I said, “We’re winning the war on terror, and we will win the war on terror.” There’s no doubt in my mind, so long as this country stays resolved and strong and determined, and by winning, I just would remind your listeners that Pakistan is now an ally in the war on terror. Saudi now takes Al-Qaeda seriously, and they’re after the leadership. Libya is no longer got weapons of mass destruction. Afghanistan, I don’t know if you’ve discussed this on your program, but there are over ten million people who have registered to vote in Afghanistan, which is a phenomenal statistic when you think about it. And then of course Iraq is now heading toward elections as well, and we’re making progress.
Sounds pretty solid to me. I still think he shot himself in the foot with that Lauer interview, but he’s clarified himself now and the storm should pass without much further damage.
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