President Bush’s approval rating continues a slow but steady climb—from an all-time NEWSWEEK-poll low of 33 percent three weeks ago to 37 percent today. But it may be too little, too late: if the midterm elections were held today, 53 percent of those likely to go to the polls would vote for the Democratic candidate in their Congressional district versus just 39 percent who would vote for the Republican.Also in Newsweek Howard Fineman took a look at the pep talk.
The Iraq war is all but overwhelming every other topic on the table right now, which is why George Bush took the midterm elections campaign to a press conference in the East Room. He had two goals. One was to concede the obvious: that, though “farmers are farming” and commerce is expanding, Iraq is a bloody mess. The second goal: to assure voters that he has a plan to win.Now there isn't a soul who isn't drunk on the Kool-Aide who could find any comport in that "plan". Fineman pointed out that if you looked at Bush's body language you could see that he didn't want to be there - didn't want to have to say that things aren't going well. A majority still know that there is no good outcome in Iraq and that George W. Bush does not now and never has had a plan. With 2008 getting closer and George W. Bush officially a lame duck not even the Republicans are going to stand for "stay the course".
So let me see if I understand the plan. He’s not for “staying the course,” of course, which would be head-in-the-sand and Captain Queeg-like, given how “tough” the situation is.
On the other hand, we dare not “cut and run,” for that would mean our defeat. Nor can we even set “artificial timetables” for withdrawal, for that would lead to our defeat, too. (Left open, I suppose, is the possibility that some real timetables would be OK.)
The only way to achieve victory in Iraq is to set “benchmarks” for the new Iraqi government to meet (a better army, an end to sectarian violence, an equitable distribution of oil revenue, etc.). That said, we can’t unilaterally impose those "benchmarks," because Iraq is a sovereign nation. On the other hand, our patience is not “unlimited,” and it could reach its limit if the Iraq government doesn’t make “tough decisions.” In any case, “Americans can have confidence that we will prevail.”