Last week at the White House, an itty-bitty herd of GOP congressmen showed up to demand progress in Iraq by September, OR ELSE!
Now, for the president and those of his aides who may have attended this histrionic meeting, the demand must have been about as welcome as it was perplexing. After all, what exactly does congress know about progress in Iraq, and when exactly did progress become so important!?
The answers of course are that (a) progress means different things to different people, and (b) elections are coming up. Meaning "movement toward a goal," progress is formless, and may infuriate those who are only faithful to their version of it. In the ever-mutating spectacle we know as Washington, that's the facts, Jack.
Ask the president about progress and he'll tell you, "Sectarian murders are down," while the majority leader of the senate might note that car bombings and deaths of American soldiers are up. For some in congress, progress is beginning to morph into something metric and marketable.
A standardized Iraq metric is emerging as the progress précis, despite mopey themes like "how many foreign nationals are kidnapped" and "how many Iraqis have electricity." It may be the lighthouse of hope for some GOPers with restless constituents, but skeptical statistic collectors note that metrics were used in Viet Nam -- only they were the wrong metrics. Whoops! (And who gets to decide which indicators are conclusive, the Decider?!)
In any event, don't expect the Commander Guy to look like a sissy by agreeing to anyone else's standards for progress.