Bush: Well, Listen, We've Never Been "Stay The Course," George

George Bush appeared on THIS WEEK today (he's making the rounds before the election) and answered avoided a few questions about the Iraq war and

Bush-TW.jpg George Bush appeared on THIS WEEK today (he's making the rounds before the election) and answered avoided a few questions about the Iraq war and his handling of it. Isn't it interesting that Stephanopoulos never followed up on Bush's sudden memory lock: "We've never been stay the course"? I seem to remember him and his cultists repeating that mantra over and over again---so a follow-up question was needed, but as usual, forgotten.

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BUSH: Well, listen, we've never been "stay the course", George. We have been, "We will complete the mission, we will do our job and help achieve the goal, but we're constantly adjusting the tactics"...

Emailer Doug:

BUSH: We will stay the course. [8/30/06]

BUSH: We will stay the course, we will complete the job in Iraq. [8/4/05]

transcript below the fold

BUSH: We will stay the course until the job is done, Steve. And the
temptation is to try to get the President or somebody to put a timetable on
the definition of getting the job done. We’re just going to stay the
course
. [12/15/03]

BUSH: And my message today to those in Iraq is: We’ll stay the course.
[4/13/04]

BUSH: And that’s why we’re going to stay the course in Iraq. And that’s
why when we say something in Iraq, we’re going to do it. [4/16/04]

BUSH: And so we’ve got tough action in Iraq. But we will stay the course. [4/5/04]

Full transcript of the segment:

STEPHANOPOULOS: I know you don't think that Iraq is in the middle of a civil war...

BUSH: Right.

STEPHANOPOULOS: ... right now.

BUSH: Right.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But whatever you call it, aren't American men and women now dying to prevent Sunnis and Shiites from killing each other?

BUSH: No, I -- George, I -- it's dangerous. And you're right, no matter what you call it.

The fundamental question is: Are we on our way to achieving a goal, which is an Iraq that can defend itself, sustain itself and govern itself and be an ally in the war on terror in the heart of the Middle East?

STEPHANOPOULOS: But it seems like every month we're going farther from that.

BUSH: Well, I don't know why you would say that. I mean...

STEPHANOPOULOS: The casualties are going up.

BUSH: ... if that's the definition of success or failure, the number of casualties, then you're right. But that's what the enemy knows. See, they try to define success or failure.

I define success or failure as to whether or not the Iraqis will be able to defend themselves. I define success or failure as whether the unity government's making difficult -- the difficult decisions necessary to unite the country.

The people voted for a government. And this government is going to have to perform to the will of the people. And that stands in stark contrast to the tyrant that preceded them and to other tyrannical -- and to the vision of those who would like to change the governments all throughout the Middle East.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Is the government performing up to your standards right now?

BUSH: The government is -- look, I think the guy's been in office for about four months, Maliki. In my judgment, Maliki has got what it takes to lead a unity government. But what you're seeing is a new form of government actually beginning to evolve after years of tyranny.

BUSH: I'm patient. I'm not patient forever. And I'm not patient with dawdling. But I recognize the degree of difficulty of the task, and therefore, say to the American people, we won't cut and run.

On the other hand, we'll constantly adjust our strategy to meet...

STEPHANOPOULOS: That's exactly what I wanted to ask you about, because James Baker says that he's looking for something between cut and run...

BUSH: Cut and run and...

STEPHANOPOULOS: ... and stay the course.

BUSH: Well, listen, we've never been "stay the course", George. We have been "we will complete the mission, we will do our job and help achieve the goal", but we're constantly adjusting the tactics, constantly.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Here's what I don't get.

BUSH: OK.

STEPHANOPOULOS: James Baker's a smart guy. He's got a solid group of people on that study group. But what can he come up with that you and your military commanders haven't already thought of?

BUSH: Well, why don't we wait and see? I don't -- you know, we're not in collaboration with the Baker-Hamilton committee. I think this is a good idea, to get people outside to come and take a look.

That's an interesting question. I'm looking forward to seeing the answer.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, a lot of people think we shouldn't wait, and that if a change of strategy is needed it shouldn't come after the elections, it should come now.

BUSH: Well, we're constantly changing tactics, constantly changing tactics.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Is the strategy working now?

BUSH: If it's not working, our commanders change it. And there's progress being made on the political front. There is some progress being made on the security front, in terms of getting more Iraqi units.

Eventually, it's going to be up to Iraq to defend herself. Eventually it's going to be the decision of the Iraqi people as to whether or not they want a form of government based upon liberty. That's going to be their choice.

Our job is to help them achieve that objective. And so there is some progress.

Look, no question it's violent, but remember why it's violent: because some -- much of the violence is caused by people that want us to leave. And the fundamental question the American people have to make is, should we stay?

STEPHANOPOULOS: Can you imagine any circumstances where U.S. troops are going to leave Iraq before you leave the presidency?

BUSH: No. I cannot. You mean, any U.S. troops?

STEPHANOPOULOS: Right.


↓ Story continues below ↓

BUSH: Well, U.S. troops have been leaving Iraq since I've been the president.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But complete withdrawal, no way?

BUSH: You mean every single troop out? No.

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