In a recent press conference President Bush, whose job approval rates have slipped spectacularly into the low 30%s, acknowledged that he was "spending [his political capital] on the war":
QUESTION: Do you agree with Mr. Allawi that Iraq has fallen into civil war?Read or watch the entire press conference at The White House.
THE PRESIDENT: I do not. There are other voices coming out of Iraq, by the way, other than Mr. Allawi -- who I know, by the way; like; he's a good fellow. […]
QUESTION: […] Do you feel that personally you have ever gotten bad advice on the conduct of the war in Iraq? And do you believe Rumsfeld should resign?
THE PRESIDENT: No, I don't believe he should resign. I think he's done a fine job of not only conducting two battles, Afghanistan and Iraq, but also transforming our military, which has been a very difficult job inside the Pentagon. Listen, every war plan looks good on paper until you meet the enemy, not just the war plan we executed in Iraq but the war plans that have been executed throughout the history of warfare.
QUESTION: Just after the 2004 election, […] you claimed a really enviable balance of political capital and a strong mandate. Would you make that claim today; that you still have that?
THE PRESIDENT: I'd say I'm spending that capital on the war.
QUESTION: Mr. President, you've spoken about Iraq being a beacon for democracy throughout the Middle East. Yet, we've had troubles in Iraq and we've seen aggressiveness from Syria and Iran. Are you concerned that the Iraq experience is going to embolden authoritarian regimes in the Middle East and make it tougher to get democracy there?
THE PRESIDENT: There's no question that if we were to prematurely withdraw and the march to democracy were to fail, the Al Qaida would be emboldened. Terrorists groups would be emboldened. The Islamo-fascists would be emboldened. No question about that.
QUESTION: Will there come a day -- and I'm not asking you when; I'm not asking for a timetable -- will there come a day when there will be no more American forces in Iraq?
THE PRESIDENT: That, of course, is an objective. And that will be decided by future presidents and future governments of Iraq.