Tuesday, August 31, 2004

I Don't Think You Can Win It

"I don't think you can win it," Buth replied. "But I think you can create conditions so that those who use terror as a tool are less acceptable in parts of the world."

So what's so hard to understand about that? If there's one thing War-on-Terrorism supporters and anti-war activists agree upon, it's that this isn't like any other war. It defies our common image of war. It involves both a military effort and a building up of some of the world's most forlorn regions, so that decent people don't turn to the awful last resort of terror.

It will be fought differently, and victory won't be something you measure by History Channel standards. There will be no Army divisions parading under the Arc d'Triumph, no U.S.S. Missouri sailing into Tokyo harbor, no handshake on the Elbe, no scribbling at Versailles, no Berlin Wall ripped apart into concrete dust and rusty rebar.

But this is an election year, and so Bush spent the next day explaining what he meant. To a veterans' group: "It's a different type of war. We may never sit down at a peace table, but make no mistake about it, we are winning and we will win."

And on talk radio: "Listen, I should have made my point more clear about what I meant. What I meant was, was that this is not a conventional war. It is a different kind of war. I probably needed to be a little more articulate."

Forget it. The remark is beyond recall, and it's gone stomping off like an Al Frankenstein's monster in the Kerry camp: Bush, the gung-ho trigger-happy unilateralist cowboy, also is a defeatist!

Kerry campaign spokesman Phil Singer derided Bush's latest remarks.

"What today showed is that George Bush might be able to give a speech saying he can win the war on terror. But he's clearly got real doubts about his ability to do so and for good reason," Singer said.

Consistency? Common sense? Forget it! This is the Anybody-But-Bush age.

The Reuters headline today is, "Bush Reverses Himself, Says Terror War Can Be Won". That seems to me disingenuous. When big media correct themselves, they are careful to distinguish between "correction" and "clarification." A correction is a "We were wrong." A clarification is, "we said what we meant to say, but it could have been said more completely or more clearly."

What Bush said in regards to his earlier remark clearly was a clarification, not a correction. It certainly wasn't a "reversal." If he had said, "we will lose," and he says now, "we will win," that's a reversal. But it just makes a so much more jucier anti-Bush headline to write "Reverses."