Benchmarks and consequences

Sometimes, it's hard to keep up.

Published May 11, 2007 7:09PM (EDT)

Sometimes, it's hard to keep up:

George W. Bush, Jan. 10, 2007: In a speech to the nation, the president declares: "A successful strategy for Iraq goes beyond military operations. Ordinary Iraqi citizens must see that military operations are accompanied by visible improvements in their neighborhoods and communities. So America will hold the Iraqi government to the benchmarks it has announced."

George W. Bush, Jan. 13, 2007: "America will hold the Iraqi government to benchmarks it has announced ... These are strong commitments. And the Iraqi government knows that it must meet them, or lose the support of the Iraqi and the American people.

Stephen Hadley, Jan. 23, 2007: Asked whether the president will set forth in his State of the Union address the consequences to be suffered if Iraqis don't meet the benchmarks set for them, the national security advisor says: "This has been a topic of conversation for the last two weeks, about linking and consequences for benchmarks. I think the Iraqi political system, the democracy you have on the ground there, as well as the democracy here, demonstrates that there will be consequences if these benchmarks are not met."

Condoleezza Rice, April 29, 2007: Asked whether the president will accept "any kind of conditions" on continued funding for the war in Iraq, the secretary of state says: "Why tie our own hands in using the means that we have to help get the right outcomes in Iraq? And that's the problem with having so-called consequences for missing the benchmarks."

Dick Cheney, May 10, 2007: Asked about the possibility of attaching consequences to benchmarks, the vice president says: "I'm always a little puzzled when we talk about consequences. I mean, these people, you've got to remember the consequences that the Iraqis have been faced with. I mean, in terms of casualties, they've suffered far more than we have ... So when we talk to them about consequences in some kind of bureaucratic sense or threatening them with a cutoff of funds, for example, if they don't do A, B and C, it strikes me as, you know, that's Washington talk but it may not have all that much relevance on the ground out there."

George W. Bush, May 10, 2007: Asked if he's willing to accept any consequences for benchmarks in the war-funding bill, the president says he's in favor of ... benchmarks: "One message I have heard from people from both parties is that the idea of benchmarks makes sense. And I agree. It makes sense to have benchmarks as a part of our discussion on how to go forward."

Tony Snow, May 10, 2007: Asked whether the president believes that there ought to be consequences for failing to meet any benchmarks that might be set, the White House press secretary says: "I'm not even going to bite on that."

By Tim Grieve

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

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