Monday, September 10, 2007


I'm still reading stories that say this:

Some Democrats are seeking compromise with moderate Republicans on legislation that mandates gradual withdrawal.

"The Democrats are still saying, 'pull the troops out'. But, with a few exceptions, they are starting to talk in terms of broad timetables rather than specific deadlines," explains a former senior US government official. "I think there is an opportunity for the country to come together over Iraq. And I wouldn't have said that was possible two months ago."

And this:

Meanwhile, a group of moderates in both parties ... were hoping to craft a compromise that would force the Bush administration to begin planning in earnest for withdrawal without imposing firm deadlines.

"Iraq policy probably will move incrementally in the direction of an end strategy," [Julian] Zelizer [a professor of history and public affairs at Princeton University] said, with Congress passing "vague legislative steps" toward withdrawal.

I think it's going to be even worse than that.

I think, yes, the Republicans will again thwart Democratic attempts to force a withdrawal, and yes, there's ultimately going to be an effort to get everyone to come together in support of a toothless bipartisan bill that tries to nudge Bush toward withdrawal without requiring him to do anything.

But I think Bush is going to dig in his heels and fight that.

Why do we think he'll accept even a no-obligation nudge toward an exit strategy? I think, flush with victory -- after all, all the smart people underestimated his ability to keep Republicans in Congress from defecting come September -- he'll want to show that he's really The Man, that no one is the boss of him, that he's not obliged to accept even a suggested course of action because he's the damn Decider and his critics aren't. (What he'll say is that he won't accept having his hands tied, even if his hands aren't being tied at all.) And I bet enough Republicans will stay on board that he'll avoid congressional passage (or a veto override) on that, giving him the total triumph he craves.

Gracious in victory? Bush?


UPDATE, WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 12: Petraeus's testimony is over and The Hill has a story called "GOP Centrists Get Boost":

The bloc of Senate GOP centrists whose votes are key to any effective push to leave Iraq may gain even more influence on war policy in the wake of Gen. David Petraeus's watershed Tuesday testimony....

Sen. Gordon Smith (R-Ore.) said he is working on a plan that envisions troop withdrawals in greater numbers than Petraeus's suggested 30,000 by next summer.

... "What I'm looking for is an overarching new strategy that says we want to finish the business in Iraq," [Senator Lamar] Alexander [R-Tn.] said....

..."Keeping somewhere between 125,000 and 150,000 American troops in Iraq for at least another 10 months, performing the same mission, will result in more casualties and will not prompt the Iraqi government to enact political reforms," [Senator Susan] Collins [R-Me.] said in a statement....

More influence for centrists who want to do something Bush doesn't want to do? I think The Hill is dreaming, for the reasons stated above. I think Bush will fight tooth and nail even if the changes are suggestions, and I think he'll win, because he always wins on the war, enabled by the vast majority of Republicans in Congress.

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