Bush Stays the Course on ‘Turning Point’ Rhetoric

In March, Boston University professor and former Army colonel Andrew Bacevich told the San Francisco Chronicle why he thought the public had soured on Bush’s Iraq policies. “My view of his problem,” he said, “is that the administration has repeatedly announced that the war had reached a turning point”¦and each time, that turning point didn’t count.”

Today, Bush again tried to characterize a political development in Iraq as the true “turning point”:

President Bush today called the formation of a new Iraqi government “a turning point,” after hearing from Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld about their weekend meeting with that country’s prime minister designate.

But the administration has tried this rhetoric in the past, with limited success. Below are a few examples of Bush and others touting previous “turning points” in Iraq:

The 2004 transfer of sovereignty:

BUSH: A turning point will come in less than two weeks. On June the 30th, full sovereignty will be transferred to the interim government. The Coalition Provisional Authority will cease to exist, an American embassy will open in the capital of a free Iraq. [6/18/04]

The January 2005 Iraq election:

BUSH: Tomorrow the world will witness a turning point in the history of Iraq, a milestone in the advance of freedom, and a crucial advance in the war on terror. The Iraqi people will make their way to polling centers across their nation. [1/29/05]

MCCLELLAN: The election is a victory for the Iraqi people. It’s a significant step forward for freedom and it is a defeat for the terrorists and their ideology. It marks a turning point in Iraq’s history and a great advance toward a brighter future for all Iraqis, one that stands in stark contrast to the brutality and oppression of the past. [1/31/05]

CHENEY: The basic point, and one I’ve made already that I believe that the elections were the turning point. And we had that election in January — first free election in Iraq in decades. [12/18/05]

All of 2005:

BUSH: There’s still a lot of difficult work to be done in Iraq, but thanks to the courage of the Iraqi people, the year 2005 will be recorded as a turning point in the history of Iraq, the history of the Middle East, and the history of freedom. [12/12/05]

CHENEY: I think about when we look back and get some historical perspective on this period, I’ll believe that the period we were in through 2005 was, in fact, a turning point; that putting in place a democratic government in Iraq was the – sort of the cornerstone, if you will, of victory against the insurgents. [2/7/06]