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Define ‘Meaning’: A Voter’s Guide

October 24, 2006

The strategy is not “stay the course.” The strategy has never been “stay the course.” [1, 2]

The strategy has forever been, “complete the mission, do the job, achieve the goal.”

Which is exactly what was meant, in December of ’03, when the President referred to himself in the third person and said,

We will stay the course until the job is done, Steve. And the temptation is to try to get the President or somebody to put a timetable on the definition of getting the job done. We’re just going to stay the course. [3]

This politics of “words” is fascinating to you literal criticals — to the Steves of the world. You seem to “think” solely in terms of the “thoughts” associated with them; but “words” are meaningless without the meanings we assign to them.

It’s the definitions, Stupid!

Not everybody has such a sophisticated vocabulary, which is exactly what was meant, just days ago, when the President said,

Nobody has accused me of having a real sophisticated vocabulary, I understand that. And maybe their — their words are more sophisticated than mine. But when you pull out before the job is done, that’s cut and run as far as I’m concerned. And that’s cut and run as far as most Americans are concerned. And so, yes, I’m going to continue reminding them of their words and their votes. [4]

See what he was doing there? He assigned a meaning to the words “cut and run.” “Cut and run” means “pulling out before the job is done.”

It doesn’t matter that what we call “cut and run” today might be the exact strategy we employ in the months after the election. For until we define — before we assign meaning to what “the mission” is, anyone who would set an artificial timeline for withdrawal is cut and run. What’s more, they’re irresponsibly cut and run, in that they’re not playing with a full deck of information. For all they know, their incomplete deck may be nothing but jokers.

They are irresponsibly uninformed.

We have a task force studying Iraq, [5] looking at how to get clear of the briar patch, if you will. This group will give us all the information we need to define the mission — to give “Victory” meaning. When we have the final analysis, we will finally have Victory.

Citizens, we will not ask you to discern the meaning of a lot of sophisticated words. You will see with your own eyes what Victory looks like in Iraq, and you will come to know the timeline for withdrawal when we withdraw!

We will ask you to ask yourself at the polls: Can we really trust the irresponsibly uninformed with our safety?

–Chaplain Montag of the First Knights of the 19 Quart Lobster Pot

[1] Think Progress: Bush: 'We've Never Been Stay The Course'
[2] Think Progress: Bartlett: 'It's Never Been A Stay The Course Strategy'
[3] White House: President Bush Holds Press Conference (December 15, 2003)
[4] White House: Press Conference by the President (October 11, 2006)
[5] Democracy Now: The End of Maliki? Will a Coup Unravel Iraq? Robert Dreyfuss and Raed Jarrar Discuss the War in Iraq

[Cross posted at Stump Lane]

2 Comments leave one →
  1. George from Tim's Kitchen permalink
    October 24, 2006 6:15 PM

    My strategy is not “stay the course.” It is “make it work.” Now, “carry on. I applaud you.” That’s a very nice outfit you have on, by the way.

  2. Montag permalink
    October 25, 2006 10:10 AM

    On a show full of insufferable egoists, that Tim guy ended up just about the only likeable character. I prefer to imagine him advising W on the war:“What do you have going on here? … Eew! … You know– I’m not so crazy about all the dismembered body parts … I don’t know … it’s too busy … [sigh] … Make it work.”

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