We are disgusted and ashamed, and join others (e.g., Juan Cole and Jim Freeman) in expressing our distaste for a president who treats people like commodities. What a horrible, repulsive asshole you are, Junior.
The New Phrase Of the Iraq War: Bush’s ‘Return On Success’
By Sridhar Pappu, Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, September 15, 2007; Page C01
Ladies and gentlemen, there’s a new benchmark now, and it’s called “return on success.”
Even before President Bush took to the airwaves Thursday evening, one of those mysterious unnamed “senior administration officials” explained the principle in a news briefing: “The more we succeed, the more troops we can bring home from Iraq. The president calls this policy ‘return on success,’ and that will be a major emphasis of the speech.”
And darned if it wasn’t. When a measured, somber President Bush addressed the American public in prime time, he explained “return on success” as “the more successful we are, the more American troops can return home.”
Success, like expectations, is a word supple with ambiguity. Webster’s New World College Dictionary defines it as a “favorable or satisfactory outcome or result.” Victory, meanwhile, is “final and complete supremacy or superiority in battle or war.” Yeah, there’s a difference.
Presidents bend the English language like George Reeves did with metal pipes as “Superman.” What makes this different is that it seems sprung from a game of buzzword bingo around the conference table. It has echoes of “return on investment,” which is strictly about the Benjamins. “I thought it was a good phrase,” says former Bush speechwriter David Frum in a telephone interview. “The problem is the public forms its own views about whether you’re succeeding or not, and there’s a danger with you insisting you are succeeding when the public sees no evidence of that proposition.
“I thought the way to go was televise from the map room and stand there with a bunch of maps and a laser pointer,” Frum, now a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, says. “Don’t worry about the phrasing. At this point language doesn’t matter very much.”
Heather Hurlburt, referring to the former Bush speechwriter and current op-ed columnist for The Washington Post, says: “They really miss Mike Gerson, don’t they?”
“It was clever,” Hurlburt, a speechwriter for the Clinton administration, continued, “but trying to force a business metaphor in there is out of whack with where most Americans are on Iraq. There might be tiny groups of people who think business metaphors are an appropriate way to think about what needs to happen in Iraq. But regardless of where they stand on the war, most people see it framed in terms of great sacrifice and a great national security risk, none of which business metaphors are applicable to.”
Whether the American public will buy into the concept of the “return on success” in Iraq remains to be seen. But the president might have added to the CEO-speak of the country’s corporate retreats and Monday team-building sessions.
Yesterday morning, business author Joe Calloway, who consults on competitive positioning and branding for corporate clients, simply gushed over the phrase. The cleverness, he says, is that it implies there’s already been a point of success to work from that will continue to grow. It’s an idea perfect for the president of a company trying to spur his employees to work with a fervor completely absent in “Office Space,” and Calloway says he wouldn’t be surprised if CEOs and executives adopt “return on success” like they took to “let’s roll.” “The thing about corporate executives,” adds Calloway, “is they’re always looking for a new way, a more powerful way to express an old idea. “