Return of Distress

From the Washington Post:

Ladies and gentlemen, there’s a new benchmark now, and it’s called “return on success.”

Even before President Bush took to the airwaves Thursday evening, one of those mysterious unnamed “senior administration officials” explained the principle in a news briefing: “The more we succeed, the more troops we can bring home from Iraq. The president calls this policy ‘return on success,’ and that will be a major emphasis of the speech.”

And darned if it wasn’t.

Original DVD cover.

When a measured, somber President Bush addressed the American public in prime time, he explained “return on success” as “the more successful we are, the more American troops can return home.”

Success, like expectations, is a word supple with ambiguity. Webster’s New World College Dictionary defines it as a “favorable or satisfactory outcome or result.” Victory, meanwhile, is “final and complete supremacy or superiority in battle or war.” Yeah, there’s a difference.


“It was clever,” Hurlburt, a speechwriter for the Clinton administration, continued, “but trying to force a business metaphor in there is out of whack with where most Americans are on Iraq. There might be tiny groups of people who think business metaphors are an appropriate way to think about what needs to happen in Iraq. But regardless of where they stand on the war, most people see it framed in terms of great sacrifice and a great national security risk, none of which business metaphors are applicable to.”

From the L.A. Times:

Bush’s description of his war aims reflected two hard realities about his position on Iraq.

First, a large majority of the American public does not believe “victory” is possible. Dozens of opinion polls have found that fewer than 40% of voters think the war can be won.

Second, the men who are running the war — Army Gen. David H. Petraeus and U.S. Ambassador Ryan C. Crocker — made it clear this week that their immediate goals were more limited than “victory.”

Where the United States once hoped for a peaceful, united Iraq governed by a Western-style parliament, Petraeus and Crocker described more modest goals: reducing sectarian violence, avoiding all-out civil war and encouraging self-rule with a strong role for tribal sheiks who are not elected.

“I cannot guarantee success in Iraq,” Crocker said in hearings before Congress. “The challenges. . . are immense.”

Petraeus shied away from even using the word “success.” When a senator asked whether the United States had “a realistic chance to be successful” in Iraq, the general carefully replied: “I believe we have a realistic chance of achieving our objectives.”


Bush expressed a hope that his decision to allow the drawdown of troops to occur on schedule would bring supporters and critics of his policies together.

“The way forward I have described tonight makes it possible, for the first time in years, for people who have been on opposite sides of this difficult debate to come together.”

There was no sign that such a hope would soon be realized. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of San Francisco and other Democrats denounced Bush’s proposal even before he spoke. Pelosi called it “a path to 10 more years of war in Iraq.”

But Bush’s target was not so much his opposition in the Democratic Party as the increasing number of war critics in his own Republican Party. Bush’s plan for drawing down the troops, one aide said, should make it possible for members of Congress “to be for success in Iraq and for beginning to bring troops home.”


Filed under Chimpy, Democrats, General Petraeus, George W. Bush, humor, Iraq War, movies, Nancy Pelosi, parody, politics, Republicans, Ryan Crocker, snark

8 responses to “Return of Distress

  1. Can you turn that thing into a postcard or something on Cafepress for people to buy it?! That is sheer brilliance. You couldn’t be more right. I found myself puzzled by this new phrase. And more and more puzzled as we are supposed to buy into it.

  2. nonnie9999

    hi ajj!!
    so happy to see you here again! 😀
    maybe i will look into postcards over at cafepress. i think the problem is that as soon as i put something up, another outrage comes along to make us forget the last one. with this maladministration, nobody can keep up.
    thanks for the suggestion. i will go over to cafepress and see what is possible. 🙂 in the meantime, feel free to copy the image to your website or wherever. i only request that you link over to hysterical raisins when you do so. thanks!

  3. nightowl724

    The Washington Post claimed he was somber – not sober!

    Did you watch his speech? The only people I have ever seen who kept their eyebrows up for 20 straight minutes like he did last Thursday night (and in your head shot) were shit-faced and telling a great big whopper.

    Oh, wait…

    Nons, this is a terrific piece of work. So much snark in such a tiny package. You never cease to amaze me! Thanks for the laughs.

  4. nonnie9999

    i didn’t watch the speech. i honestly get physically ill just looking at him, let alone hearing him trying to speak. i question how much he really understands. i think the raised eyebrows are not a sign of lying (he lies all the time, so it is second nature to him and would not manifest itself in any outward sign), but a sign of as much concentration as he can muster. it’s like watching someone try to thread a stubborn needle.

  5. gottagrip

    I’ve returned from the belly of the beast that is Washington, and I’m glad to see that what we did had absolutely no effect on BushCo. That would have meant that Democracy works, and we can’t really have that, not in this administration. Oh, well, at least we exercised our right to free speech while we still had it. I’ll be looking for the notice that it’s been taken away any day now…..

    And mikk0, I carried you and nons with me proudly, you protested right along with me. I only wish that the two of you had been there in person, right along side of me….

    Nons, you have mail, my dear…..

  6. nonnie9999

    welcome back! 😀 while the protest had no effect on chimpy & co, i don’t think he was really the target. what use is it to talk to a brick wall? however, i think over a hundred thousand people taking to the streets in dc empowers other people. i have been reading descriptions of the protest, and i was heartened by the fact that there were a lot of young people there. i bet that a lot of them will be voting for the first time in 2008, and protests will make a distinct impression. they will go home and tell all their friends about what it felt like to actually ‘live’ democracy. maybe they will get a few more to the ballot box. it just might make a difference.

  7. gottagrip

    I sure hope you’re right, nons. There were alot of young people there, the protesters actually ran the spectrum. There were lots of young couples there with small children, and lots of young people who didn’t look old enough to vote yet, but will be ready come 2008-2010. It’s very heartening. And the Freepers were very much outnumbered, whatever the MSM reports. Actually, I don’t know what they’re reporting now, I haven’t had a chance to look around yet and see. It was good to know you were here keeping an eye on things, although I wish you’d been with us, you and mikko and so many others. But if you couldn’t go, it was good to know you were there watching and doing your part to keep them honest. And you’re right, no need to point anything at BushCo, they wouldn’t listen if the entire nation was pounding on the White House doors. We can only hope that Congress pays attention. And if not this time, then we have to keep delivering the message in ever growing numbers until they take the hint and pull their heads out of their collective asses…..

  8. nonnie9999

    gotta, if nothing else, the candidates had better take heed and act accordingly. they all need to remove their heads from their asses and realize that the american people do not support the occupation of iraq. period.