At a White House press briefing last week, NBC's David Gregory tried to get Tony Snow to discuss James Baker's conclusion that "stay the course" is "no longer viable." Snow cut him off before he could ask the question. "Okay, stop -- no, no, stop," he said. Then he explained that "'stay the course' is not the policy, and, you know, the president has been saying that for months."
So when Bush changes the words he uses -- he said "stay the course" at least 30 times before declaring that we're not "staying the course" -- we should read something into it? Well, not always. Up until now, the president has almost always referred to the war in Iraq as "the central front" in the war on terror. Yesterday, he called it "a" -- not the -- "central component" in the war.
Should we be reading something into that? "No," Snow said at yesterday's press briefing. "Allow him to vary the phraseology from time to time. It does not mean any change in view."