Monday, June 25, 2007


I'm looking at The Washington Post's series on Cheney (the existence of which suggests that disgruntled colleagues and former colleagues no longer fear his wrath if they leak unpleasant stories about him), and I'm looking at "Bush Aides Consider Iraq Truce at Capitol" in the L.A. Times, and if I didn't know better, I'd be half-ready to believe that we're seeing the beginning of the end of High Bushism -- the administration seems to be lifting its dug-in heels and turning away from naked power grabs and delusional thinking.

Except I don't quite believe that it will be over so quickly. Here's a bit of that L.A. Times story (which you can also read free here):

The Bush administration has begun exploring ways of offering Congress a compromise deal on Iraq policy to avert bruising battles in coming months, U.S. officials said.

With public support of the war dropping, President Bush has authorized an internal policy review to find a plan that could satisfy opponents without sacrificing his top goals, the officials said.

...In recent weeks, some administration officials have begun considering a partial drawdown that could start as early as the first quarter of next year....

The key phrase, surely, is "a plan that could satisfy opponents without sacrificing [Bush's] top goals." I think what they're really looking for is a way to get Congress to sign off on giving Bush everything he wants -- or on a bill that seems to be a compromise while leaving a huge opening for Bush to get everything he wants, like the so-called Bush-McCain "torture ban."

But what if these guys really do want a way out? What if Condi and Cheney really aren't on the same page and Condi's got more influence these days -- and what if (and this would seem to be key) Rove is bailing on the war because he thinks the war threatens his lifelong dream of GOP dominance of America for a generation?

The Times story alludes to the possible electoral effect of all this:

Democrats are feeling growing pressure from their antiwar base for troop withdrawals, and could sacrifice a crucial 2008 campaign issue if they agreed to a deal with the White House.

But is that how it would work? Remember, it's a presidential election year. If Bush actually does start withdrawing, even though it's what the country wants, his party's presidential candidates will start to lose the ability to run as Daddy. And running as Daddy is pretty much all the two front-runners, Thompson and Giuliani, have going for them.

I know this is counterintuitive and self-contradictory -- but I think this is how a lot of voters' minds work. I think they want to get shed of the war, but they'd really rather have Daddy kicking ass. I don't know if Thompson or Giuliani can keep arguing that the GOP is the "stay on the offense" party if troops are coming home. And if this really happens, what would Giuliani, in particular, have left to run on? Opposition to the Clinton economy of the '90s?

So my hunch is that a troop withdrawal could actually help put a Democrat in the White House. Win-win -- wouldn't that be weird?

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