WaPo: Bush's New Iraq Argument: It Could Be Worse
Bush's New Iraq Argument: It Could Be Worse: "Of all the words that President Bush used at his news conference this week to defend his policies in Iraq, the one that did not pass his lips was 'progress.'
For three years, the president tried to reassure Americans that more progress was being made in Iraq than they realized. But with Iraq either in civil war or on the brink of it, Bush dropped the unseen-progress argument in favor of the contention that things could be even worse.
The shifting rhetoric reflected a broader pessimism that has reached into even some of the most optimistic corners of the administration -- a sense that the Iraq venture has taken a dark turn and will not be resolved anytime soon. Bush advisers once believed that if they met certain benchmarks, such as building a constitutional democracy and training a new Iraqi army, the war would be won. Now they believe they have more or less met those goals, yet the war rages on.
While still committed to the venture, officials have privately told friends and associates outside government that they have grown discouraged in recent months. Even the death of al-Qaeda's leader in Iraq proved not to be the turning point they expected, they have told associates, and other developments have been relentlessly dispiriting, with fewer signs of hope.
Bush acknowledged this week that he has been discouraged as well. 'Frustrated?' he asked. 'Sometimes I'm frustrated. Rarely surprised. Sometimes I'm happy. This is -- but war is not a time of joy. These aren't joyous times. These are challenging times and they're difficult times and they're straining the psyche of our country.'"