These decisions about troops levels will be driven by the conditions on the ground in Iraq and the good judgment of our commanders, not by artificial timetables set by politicians in Washington.
I don't doubt that the judgment of the commanders is better than Bush's, but the point is that he and other politicians in Washington are elected to set foreign policy. Generals are not meant to set policy, but to carry it out. That's why the US is not, oh, a military oligarchy or a police state. Leaving this decision to some general in Iraq might be politically expedient, but it's not what he was elected to do. The buck doesn't stop with the generals. It stops with the president.
It seems that even Mr. Bush is admitting, in his roundabout way, that he no longer leads the nation and sets strategy. He's being led by "conditions on the ground," letting our enemies determine our actions rather than setting our own course.
Either that, or it's just the most cynical pandering I've ever heard and he's distancing himself from "politicians in Washington." Which is quite a trick for a sitting president.