Bush's Refrain on Iraq Joined by a Smaller and Smaller Chorus

At George Washington University, President Bush reprised his largely happy tune on progress in Iraq.
At George Washington University, President Bush reprised his largely happy tune on progress in Iraq. (By Rich Lipski -- The Washington Post)
By Dana Milbank
Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Two-thirds of his countrymen doubt the administration has a plan in Iraq, and even some White House allies are using words such as "defeat" and "farce" to describe the American presence there. Here's what President Bush thinks:

"We have a comprehensive strategy for victory in Iraq."

"Iraqi security forces turned in a strong performance."

"This is real progress."

"The terrorists are losing on the field of battle."

The actual words were uttered yesterday by the president at George Washington University. But variations of those phrases have come from his lips dozens of times over the past two years in what could well be named the "I Have a Plan" speech. Bush, who betrays not a millimeter of doubt about his Iraq strategy, long ago supplanted Bob Dole as the most optimistic man in America.

The administration has been showing an aversion to entertaining all types of bad news.

Even after White House officials learned that chief domestic policy adviser Claude Allen was suspected of having sticky fingers at a Target store, they opted to put him in the first lady's box at the State of the Union and had him brief reporters aboard Air Force One. When Bush was confronted with congressional objections to the administration's plan to let a Dubai company operate terminals at six U.S. ports, Bush vowed to veto any legislation that attempted to block it.

On Iraq, the president's refrain has become so routine that many Americans could sing the chorus:

"We are making progress in the march of freedom."

"As Iraqis stand up, America and our coalition will stand down."

"We're on the hunt for the enemy."


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