Bush: In search of "a matrix that says things are getting better"

The president suggests Americans would support the war more if they knew how many of the enemy the United States is killing.

Published October 26, 2006 1:31PM (EDT)

In an interview with "conservative journalists" Wednesday -- he must have checked the "liberal media" off his list with Wednesday morning's press conference -- George W. Bush complained that his administration's decision not to brag about enemy body counts in Iraq has made it hard for him to persuade the American people that the United States is winning the war in Iraq.

"We have made a conscious effort not to be a body-count team," the National Review's Byron York quotes the president as saying. Bush says the administration's restraint "gives you the impression that [U.S. troops] are just there -- kind of moving around, directing traffic, and somebody takes a shot at them and they're down."

Of course, the administration hasn't been as body-count-free as Bush suggests. Among the top stories on the Defense Department's Web site just now: "Coalition Soldiers Kill Six Insurgents, Seize Weapons."

But Bush says he has "thought long and hard about this" and realizes that Americans are getting frustrated. "A lot of people are just saying, 'Youre not doing enough to win. We're not winning, you're not doing enough to win, and I'm frustrated, I want it over with, with victory.' And I'm trying to figure out a matrix that says things are getting better. I think that one way to measure is less violence than before, I guess."

By Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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