The Republicans are growing increasingly divided on Iraq. NBC News reported that 11 Republican members of Congress pleaded yesterday with President Bush and his senior aides to change course in Iraq.
Tim Russert described the conversation:
[O]ne said “My district is prepared for defeat. We need candor, we need honesty, Mr. President.” The president responded, “I don’t want to pass this off to another president. I don’t want to pass this off, particularly, to a Democratic president,” underscoring he understood how serious the situation was.
Brian, the Republican congressman then went on to say, “The word about the war and its progress cannot come from the White House or even you, Mr. President. There is no longer any credibility. It has to come from Gen. Petraeus.” The meeting lasted an hour and 15 minutes and was, in the words of one, “remarkable for the bluntness and no-holds-barred honesty in the message delivered by all these Republican congressmen.”
Of course, this sent Glenn Reynolds into a tailspin and squealing that holding Bush to account would hurt the country.
REPUBLICAN MODERATES getting restive on the war. I think this is shortsighted and wrong and likely to hurt the country. On the other hand, for the Bush Administration it’s a reality. I’ve mentioned the three-year-rule before, but we’re now past the four-year mark (five if you count Afghanistan). If Bush were a great communicator, he’d be able to help himself some, but I doubt Reagan could have held things together a whole lot better. The White House and Pentagon need to be figuring out how to deal with this, and what constructive fallback positions they can prepare.
In other words, according to Reynolds, it’s “shortsighted” to tell the Commander Guy the truth– that he’s got zero credibility on Iraq.
After a briefing at the Pentagon around midday, Mr. Bush said he had instructed Joshua Bolten, the White House chief of staff, to reach “common ground” with lawmakers of both parties over setting firm goals, or benchmarks, to measure progress in Iraq. Mr. Bush had previously insisted he wanted about $95 billion for the military with no strings attached.
During today’s Senate Armed Services Committee hearing, Defense Secretary Robert Gates says he doesn’t know whether the 2002 resolution authorizing force in Iraq is still valid, acknowledging that his view differs with that of President Bush.