Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Iraq III: King George's Synaptic Breakdown

I'd bet that King George thought his mommy would never notice when he'd steal money from her pocketbook when he was just a wee princeling. Perhaps she didn't.

But his semantic sleights of hand -- or synaptic breakdowns (*) as Josh Marshall reminds us they used to be called on "Star Trek" -- have become so preposterous that it's impossible not to notice.

December 15, 2003:
"We will stay the course until the job is done. . . .We're just going to stay the course."
April 13, 2004:
"And my message today to those in Iraq is: We'll stay the course."
August 4, 2005:
"We will stay the course, we will complete the job in Iraq."
August 30, 2006:
"We will stay the course."
(Laura Bush) September 18, 2006:
"I say the -- exactly what the president says, that we need to stay the course."
October 22, 2006:
"Well, listen, we've never been stay the course. 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."
The once timid mainstream media has been all over King George and White House Press Secretary Tony Snow for saying that staying the course doesn't mean staying the course.

Says Peter Baker of the Washington Post:
"A phrase meant to connote steely resolve instead has become a symbol for being out of touch and rigid in the face of a war that seems to grow worse by the week, Republican strategists say. Democrats have now turned 'stay the course' into an attack line in campaign commercials, and the Bush team is busy explaining that 'stay the course' does not actually mean stay the course.

"Instead, they have been emphasizing in recent weeks how adaptable the president's Iraq policy actually is. Bush remains steadfast about remaining in Iraq, they say, but constantly shifts tactics and methods in response to an adjusting enemy. 'What you have is not 'stay the course' but in fact a study in constant motion by the administration,' " Snow said yesterday.

"Political rhetoric, of course, is often in constant motion as well. But with midterm elections two weeks away, the Bush team is searching for a formula to address public opposition to the war, struggling to appear consistent and flexible at the same time. That was underscored by the reaction to a New York Times report that the administration is drafting a timetable for the Iraqi government to disarm militias and assume a larger security role. The White House initially called the story 'inaccurate.' But then White House counselor Dan Bartlett went on CNN yesterday morning to call it 'a little bit overwritten' because in fact it was something the administration had been doing for months."

*) A synaptic breakdown on "Star Trek" was
the final firing of neurons that marked the end of coherent brain wave activity and onset of death.

(Hat tip to Think Progress via Dan Froomkin at The Washington Post.)

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