The press was abuzz with the news that President Bush has dropped the dumb saying in regard to Iraq that America will “stay the course.” Unfortunately, almost all other comments emanating from the oval office indicate that he intends to keep the same dumb strategy.

In other words, with political pressures mounting as the November wakeup call draws nigh, the administration seems to have arrived at the politically expedient policy, “Don’t say it; just stay it.”

Oh, there has been a certain amount of obliging talk by the administration about drawing up benchmarks for such woefully overdue items as the reduction of violence and the turnover of peacekeeping duties to the Iraqis. But Donald Rumsfeld, being the exact speaker that he unavoidably is, preferred the term “park benches” and noted that under such languorous conditions specific dates are impractical.

Apparently, put on the defensive by the talk, indeterminate as it was, Prime Minister al-Maliki felt compelled to announce, “I am a friend of the United States, but I am not in the United States. If I was, I would agree to any timetable whatsoever.”

In order to draw a curtain across any appearance of disagreement with the Maliki government, Bush announced, “Prime Minister Maliki is the leader of a sovereign nation, and as such he doesn’t have to lick anybody’s butt but mine.”

The only timetable with any urgency in it is coming from the beleaguered Iraqi citizens themselves. Two recent polls show that the majority of them think the sooner our troops hit the trail, the sooner the violence will subside.

As a result, changing not only what we say but what we do doesn’t mean we’re going to “cut and run,” the other baseball bat the administration uses to beat Democrats over the head with. We’re merely giving the Iraqis a chance to determine their own destiny.

Of course, al-Qaeda in and out of Iraq, as well as arms supplier and hopeful co-ruler Iran, will murder or assist in the murder of as many Iraqis as they can to help speed up the illusive timetable.

But we finally have to trust the Iraqi people. They have voted for their own self-determination and now they have an even greater reason to fight for it. They’re out from under the foot of Saddam Hussein.

Now, if they can only get their own act together and drive the foreign elements out, they can have a peaceful, prosperous, and democratically determined nation for the first time in modern history, that is, if they have the sense to want one.

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