By: E&P Staff
Much was made on Monday, in and out of the blogosphere, concerning top White House aide Dan Bartlett stating on TV this morning that President Bush really did not believe in “stay the course” in Iraq, but actually was quite flexible in his views. Bush himself had said on ABC on Sunday, “we’ve never been stay the course.”
This surprised many observers, since the president had often used this phrase to describe our Iraq policy, in press or public meetings, as recently as Aug. 30.
Naturally, at press briefing today, White House Press Secretary Tony Snow was asked about this after he described the flexibility notion. One exchange follows.
Q Tony, it seems what you have is not “stay the course.” Has anybody told the President he should stop calling it “stay the course” then?
MR. SNOW: I don’t think he’s used that term in a while.
Q Oh, yes, he has, repeatedly.
MR. SNOW: When?
Q Well, in August, because I wrote a story saying he didn’t use it — and I was quite sternly corrected.
MR. SNOW: No, he stopped using it.
Q Why would he stop using it?
MR. SNOW: Because it left the wrong impression about what was going on. And it allowed critics to say, well, here’s an administration that’s just embarked upon a policy and not looking at what the situation is, when, in fact, it’s just the opposite. The President is determined not to leave Iraq short of victory, but he also understands that it’s important to capture the dynamism of the efforts that have been ongoing to try to make Iraq more secure, and therefore, enhance the clarification — or the greater precision.
Q Is the President responsible for the fact people think it’s stay the course since he’s, in fact, described it that way himself?
MR. SNOW: No.