President Bush, April 13:

“One of the interesting things people ask me is, ‘Can you ever win the war on terror?’ Of course you can.”

President Bush, July 14:

“I have a clear vision and a strategy to win the war on terror.”

President Bush, August 30:

“I don’t think you can win it.”

Personally, I think Bush’s statements for the past few years about how the U.S. can “defeat” terrorists and “win the war” against them have been naive at best and calculably misleading at worst. The very nature of terrorism makes it not so much a war as a constant struggle to avert individual situations created by any number of secretive groups. Thus, it’s actually refreshing to hear him (finally) admit that it’s not something that can be “won”, but rather that through persistence and vigilance we can make it harder for terrorists to exploit situations and carry out attacks.

John Edwards, August 30, responding to Bush’s statement:

“This is no time to declare defeat… we [he and Kerry, presumably] have a comprehensive long-term plan to make America safer.”

John Kerry, August 30:

[When asked if the ‘war on terror’ can be won] “Absolutely.”

Rudolph Guliani, August 30:

“We’ll see an end to global terrorism.”

Much as I hate to admit it, Bush’s return to planet earth is a nice contrast to John, John, and Rudolph– who maintain that terrorism can be defeated once and for all. Of course, these are nothing more than vague campaign promises, and Edwards’ statement in particular reeks of Nixon’s “secret plan” to end the fighting in Vietnam.

I guess all in all, I much prefer a president (or any politician, for that matter) who admits there are tough problems out there, and the solutions aren’t as easy as another “intelligence chief” or more security checkpoints or whatever. The terrorists are out there, they can’t be taken down with a single decisive action, and they sure as heck aren’t going to disappear any time soon.

Go Bush! Oh, wait…