1) Chuck Hagel makes it a moral issue:
The American people want to see serious debate about serious issues from serious leaders. They deserve more than a political debate. This debate should transcend cynical attempts to turn public frustration with the war in Iraq into an electoral advantage. It should be taken more seriously than to simply retreat into focus-group tested buzz words and phrases like “cut and run,” catchy political slogans that debase the seriousness of war. War’s not a partisan issue, Mr. President. It should not be held hostage to political agendasHagel is a Republican from Nebraska.
The GOP-controlled Senate gave an election-year endorsement to President Bush's Iraq policy on Thursday, soundly rejecting Democratic demands to withdraw troops from the three-year-old war that has grown increasingly unpopular.Just read that sentence, and taste the juxtaposition. Then consider the statement of Sen. Harry Reid:
Vice President Dick Cheney criticized the Democrats' position, saying on CNN, "Absolutely the worst possible thing we could do at this point would be to validate and encourage the terrorists by doing exactly what they want us to do, which is to leave."What are Bush's approval numbers now? What are the approval numbers of the war? And when do we declare victory? On what grounds? Elimination of all insurgents? When the Iraqis can defend themselves? The logical question is: when will they ever do that, if we never plan to leave?
But Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid of Nevada said, "Demanding a change of course is not irresponsible. It's not unpatriotic. It is the right thing to do." He criticized Bush and Republicans in Congress as being "content with no plan and no end in sight."
The administration has repeatedly said that U.S. troops will stay in Iraq until Iraqi security forces can defend the country against a lethal insurgency that rose up after the 2003 U.S.-led invasion toppled Saddam Hussein.
Bush has painted himself into a corner. Sooner or later, he has to leave. Sooner or later, he has to "cut 'n' run." Just as Margaret Carlson points out in
On Monday, the vice president stood by his prediction that the insurgency was in its last throes, made in May 2005, qualifying it with ``I don't think anybody anticipated the level of violence that we've encountered.'' That's no one except everyone not on the White House payroll and some at the State Department who were.And read her summary of Ron Suskind's book; she mentions some things I hadn't heard before. Suskind's story is becoming the new narrative about this war, and how we got here, and who led us here.
Bush's qualifier to stay the course -- ``we will stand down when the Iraqis stand up'' -- is a nostrum better suited to a needlepoint pillow than war councils. It does lend Bush total flexibility. When will the Iraqis be ready? When the president pronounces them so. And then he will cut and run.
Slowly but surely, a new story of what has happened is coming out; which is what Cheney and Rumsfeld, and Bush, want least of all.