08/13/2005 02:57 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

War? Struggle? Intersectional Tussle?

It hasn't escaped MSM attention that, in the past two weeks, Pentagon officials announced a withdrawal from the phrase "Global War on Terror", following which President Bush and White House officials struggled mightily to maintain that nothing had changed. Similarly, Pentagon officials suggested an early-spring drawdown in Iraq troop levels, which the President himself worked hard to deny. It is hard work. What's going on?

Ron Brownstein contributes an analysis noteworthy for this quote:

"Will the president pull stakes and leave because of political pressure?" one White House official said. "The answer is absolutely no. If you look at presidents for the past 50 years, you'd be hard pressed to find someone — maybe Ronald Reagan — who would be as hard as nails on this."

Would that be the Ronald Reagan who ordered a pullout from Lebanon after terrorist attacks killed 250 Marines in Beirut? Brownstein doesn't ask.

Peter Baker in the Washington Post chews over the same question, and buries the lede magnificently, waiting until paragraph 7 to report:

Administration officials have all but given up any hope of militarily defeating the insurgents with U.S. forces, instead aiming only to train and equip enough Iraqi security forces to take over the fight themselves.

If that unsourced, unattributed but unambiguous sentence is actually true, it would be very big news, especially for those measuring the hardness of our nails.

Maybe Brownstein's White House official meant Sally Hansen Hard as Nails.