The Bush administration is having relatively good luck operating in the political space between winning and losing. Admittedly, almost nobody believes they are winning in Iraq, but, at the same time, almost no politician/major pundit is currently willing to say that Iraq has been lost. Not in those harsh final words.
The reasons are sheerly political, being the first major voice to say flatly that the US has lost the war would have long term political consequences for that individual so the major figures are unwilling to transfer the tense from "failing" to "failed" and from "losing" to "lost."
But this political cowardice and self interest is precisely what has allowed this administration to continue flailing in the tarpit for so long.
By allowing the open possibility that Iraq is failing and not absolutely failed, politicians are allowing the Bush administration to string along this continuing tragedy so long as they continue to fill their proposals with affirmative language such as "prevail" and "success."
We will not prevail. There will be no success. Iraq has been lost. The only question left is how bad of an outcome we face.
The truly frightening thing to me is that this political space is being used to undertake one last great gamble by the administration for the possibility of "victory." But the problem with that gamble is that it positions troops, policies, and diplomacy in such a way that a soft landing is even more difficult.
It's a long way down from here, but every day we delay with the fantasy of victory, the bottom gets even lower.