Cutting and running on staying the course

By Debra LoGuercio

©Copyright 2006, Debra LoGuercio, all rights reserved

Well, well, well. Our Feckless Leader is cutting and running from his perpetual “Stay the course” battle cry. None of us even has enough fingers and toes to count all the times Dubya’s offered “Stay the course” as an explanation for why we remain embroiled in a preemptive war with a country that never attacked us, yet he insisted last week that “Stay the course” was never his message.

To ABS news correspondent George Stephanopoulos, Dubya said, “Listen, we’ve never been ‘stay the course,’ George.”

You know that “yay-ee-ee-yah-ee-ee-yah-ee-ee” sound cartoon characters make when they shake their heads in astonishment? Didja just make it? At least one person did: my new hero, Keith Olbermann, who regularly blasts the Bush Administration with scathing oratories on his nightly TV show, Countdown.

Latching onto Bush’s recent change of course in staying the course, Olbermann spliced together clips of all the times Bush said “stay the course,” complete with a little tally that dinged as each number ticked by. I was laughing by the time it got to 28, so I missed the actual total. But it was way more than “never.”

Oh, the joys of videotape. Do Dubya’s handlers keep him so well-insulated from reality that he’s unaware that his every word can be captured in perpetuity on videotape? Wait’ll he rejoins the real world and finds out about iPods and email and cell phones.

So, Dubya learned the hard way that the truth is only as far away as “roll that tape.” In a pathetic attempt to wiggle his way out of this mess, he quickly changed his tactic. (Note to Dubya: Changing one’s tactic because the original plan isn’t working is what you’ve been calling “Cut and run,” just in case we work our way up to that phrase next.)

At an Oct. 11 news conference, Dubya explained “Stay the course”: “The characterization of, you know, ‘it’s stay the course’ is about a quarter right. ‘Stay the course’ means keep doing what you’re doing. My attitude is: Don’t do what you’re doing if it’s not working — change. ‘Stay the course’ also means don’t leave before the job is done.”


Keep doing what you’re doing but do something else if what you’re doing isn’t doing it? Down means up and up means down? George Orwell is turning over in his grave as we speak.

Of course, this isn’t the first time Dubya’s struggled over the subtler meaning of a phrase that contains little subtlety. Remember “Mission Accomplished”? How many thousands of US soldiers and Iraqi civilians have died since “Mission Accomplished”?


Since Dubya’s getting off track on staying the course in these crucial pre-election weeks, White House press secretary Tony Snow(job) stepped in to clear it all up. He said that the Bush administration is moving away from “Stay the course” because “it left the wrong impression about what was going on.”

I beg to differ with Mr. Snow(job). I don’t have the wrong impression about what “Stay the course” means. I understand it completely: Don’t veer off track. Don’t turn right or left. Keep your eyes focused straight ahead and keep on going until you get there, no matter what.

Here’s the real source of confusion: What exactly is “the course”? How can we be sure we’re staying the course, when we obviously don’t know what the course is?

Dubya has told us over and over that we’re staying the course in Iraq and we’ll stay on it until we get there. Except for one little nagging detail. Where is “there”? When we topple Saddam Hussein? We did that and obviously weren’t “there” yet, Mission Accomplished notwithstanding. Maybe we’ll be “there” when the Iraqis are free? They’re free now, and all they want to do is kill each other. How ‘bout just standing back and letting them have at it, and when everyone’s dead, Halliburton can swoop in and clean up the mess? And then the oil companies can move in and make gazillions off gas-guzzling Americans. Will we be “there” then?

Rather than getting bogged down in the semantics of defining “staying the course,” let’s first define “the course” so we understand what it is we’re staying on -- so we’ll know when we get “there.” That’s the real crux of this Iraq mess – there’s no “there” there. So, define “there” for us, George. Enlighten us.

Stay tuned, folks. This aughtta be even more fascinating than hearing what the meaning of “is” is.