Repetitious, Yes, but They Didn't Cut and Run
Lawmakers, diplomats and assorted military types settled into their seats in the Ronald Reagan Building yesterday to watch President Bush's fourth speech on Iraq in a fortnight. A snap poll was conducted in the press section: Would the feature presentation be a new film, a remake with updated effects, or just a rerun?
In the end, everybody agreed: They had seen this movie before.
For the 22nd time in a speech as president, Bush said we would not "cut and run" in Iraq. For the 28th time, he said Iraq was "the central front" in the war on terrorism. And, for the 100th time, Bush promised that "we will prevail" against the terrorists.
The lack of new material in Bush's speech complicated the second act in yesterday's double feature. Jack Murtha (Pa.), the Democratic congressman who has been rebutting each of the four Iraq speeches, had little to work with. "He keeps saying the same thing over and over," Murtha protested during his regular televised rebuttal.
Instead, Murtha opted to rebut the location of Bush's speech. "Let me take a few minutes to remark about the irony of President Bush speaking today in the Ronald Reagan Building," he said. Given "the sorry state of our Army, the erosion of the U.S. credibility in the world, and the deficits far as the eye can see, you've got to believe President Reagan is turning over in his grave."
On the eve of today's elections in Iraq, there was, evidently, nothing left to be said about the matter, as supporters and opponents of the war went into rerun season. Democrats wanted the troops out sooner rather than later. Bush wanted the troops out later rather than sooner. But both sides seemed to be going through the motions as they traded bumper-sticker slogans.
Bush: "We will never accept anything less than complete victory."
Murtha: "American troops have become the targets in Iraq."
Bush: "An artificial deadline would be a recipe for disaster."
Murtha: "You've given them a mission which they cannot carry out."
Bush: "Plant the seeds of freedom."
Murtha: "The Army is broken."