Bush Talks With Conservative Journalists

President Bush met with seven conservative journalists for an hour on Wednesday. Michael Barone of U.S. News and World Report is one of the journalists and offers an unabridged full-text transcript and audio of the entire meeting.

Byron York, National Review White House correspondent, writes on Bush’s plan for measuring progress in the Iraq War:

So if the U.S. chooses not to reveal how many of the enemy it has killed — and if, in any event, that death toll is not stopping the sectarian violence — then how does one assess what is going on? “I’ve thought long and hard about this, because it is precisely what is frustrating most people,” Bush said. “A lot of people are just saying, ‘You’re not doing enough to win. We’re not winning, you’re not doing enough to win, and I’m frustrated, I want it over with, with victory.’ And I’m trying to figure out a matrix that says things are getting better. I think that one way to measure is less violence than before, I guess…”

But that, of course, leads back to the president’s statement that the enemy gets to define victory by killing people. If the sectarian forces are able to keep up the killing, then they will determine who wins in Iraq.

The latest plan to retake the offensive on defining victory is the so-called benchmark. “The idea is to develop with the Iraqi government a series of benchmarks — oil, federalism, constitutional reform, there’s like 20 different things — and have that developed in a way that they’re comfortable with and we’re comfortable with,” Bush said. Progress toward those goals would give the administration new ways to point toward overall progress in Iraq. (Source.)

I’m downloading the mp3 right now. I’m interested to see the context for Bush’s quote in the title of York’s article: “If We Can’t Win, I’ll Pull Us Out.”

Update: Here’s the context for the quote. It’s at the tail end of Bush’s opening remarks.

As I say, people want to know, can you win? They’re with us if we can win. If we’re there and can’t win, we’re gone. If we can’t win, I’ll pull us out. If I didn’t think it was noble and just and we can win, we’re gone. I can’t — I’m not going to keep those kids in there and have to deal with their loved ones. I cannot — I can’t cover it up when I meet with a family who’s lost a child. I cry, I weep, I hug. And I’ve got to be able to look them in the eye and say, we’re going to win. I have to be able to do that. And I’m not a good faker. (Source.)