At today's White House press briefing, Tony Snow defended the president's slow movement toward a new "way forward" in Iraq by saying that a lot is happening now even as the president listens and thinks about what comes next. "It's not the case that people have returned to barracks and corked up the cannons and said, 'We'll just await further orders,'" he said.
No, it's not. Forty-seven U.S. soldiers have been killed in Iraq so far this month, and we'll assume for the sake of argument that not one of them was sitting in his or her barracks, awaiting further orders at the time. But in the larger sense, of course, we're all awaiting further orders from the president. And he made it clear this afternoon that we're going to have to keep waiting until he's good and ready to give them. After meeting with Defense Department officials at the Pentagon, Bush said: "I will not be rushed into making a difficult decision."
Not that it matters, really. If Bush planned to start bringing home substantial numbers of U.S. troops, each day of delay now would expose soldiers to risks they otherwise wouldn't have to face. But as Bush telegraphed again today, a prompt withdrawal simply isn't in the cards -- or at least not in the cards he's interested in holding. The president said that he's been hearing lots of ideas, and that some of them are "ideas that would lead to defeat." Among them: "leaving before the job is done."