WASHINGTON, DC—Following a 12th consecutive day of fighting, a puzzled and frustrated President Bush confided to military advisors Monday that he "really figured the war would be over by now."
"It's been almost two weeks," said Bush, commander-in-chief of the 255,000 U.S. troops currently in the Persian Gulf. "What's taking so long? Will the Iraqi regime just topple, already?"
Though Bush has repeatedly declined making public comment on the expected duration of the war, in private he has expressed annoyance with the way the invasion is "dragging on."
"I knew the war would require courage and fortitude on the part of American people," Bush said. "What I didn't know was that it would go on for days and days and days."
Though Bush said that receiving reports from U.S. field commanders was thrilling at first, he has grown tired of the repetitive updates.
"The first couple days were really exciting," Bush said. "I was having all sorts of cool strategy meetings with these high-level military men I don't usually talk to, and it all felt very historic. But now, it's gotten to be kind of a monotonous grind. It's always, 'The line has advanced this much.' 'We need to wait for backup here.' 'We're making good progress, but it's been complicated by blah blah blah.' It's all these tedious, same-sounding details. Can I hear something new for a change, like 'They surrender,' or 'Saddam's dead'? Something—anything but more stupid reports of sandstorms."
Though he is proud of the nation's military, Bush said he doesn't understand why it can't speed things up a bit.
"I don't think my dad's war took this long, and we've got much better weapons now," Bush said. "I talked to him on the phone the other day and, although he didn't say it, I could tell he was disappointed that I'm not doing it faster than him."
On Sunday, Bush called Gen. Richard Myers, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, to discuss the war's progress.
"I didn't complain about how slow it's going, because I know he's working hard and wants to conquer Iraq as much as I do," Bush said. "But I did sort of hint that the faster we win, the more impressive our military will look to the world. So hopefully that'll light a fire under him."
Bush asked Myers for a "guesstimate" regarding the length of the war, but the general said he couldn't give one. Myers also denied the president's subsequent request for "even a rough guesstimate."
Bush said "it was fun to be in charge of a war and stay up all night," but the fatigue is starting to set in.
"I haven't gotten more than seven hours of sleep a night since I gave Saddam the 48 hours," Bush said. "I thought I'd get to play a few games of golf when we went to Camp David two weekends ago, but we worked the entire time."
Bush's staff has noted his rising level of irritation.
"I know George thinks it should be over, but he's got to realize that this is a complicated thing," National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice said. "He doesn't have to keep snapping at us."
According to Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, Bush continually finds excuses to slip away from briefings, even resorting to ringing his own secure phone for a fake "emergency."
"We've been going easier on him the last few days," Wolfowitz said. "At first, we informed him of every new development, because that's what he wanted. Now, we pretty much limit it to the essentials."