Is McCain Running Out Of Patience With Bush on Iraq?
What Secretary Rice’s letter makes abundantly clear is that the Administration does not intend to attach meaningful consequences for the Iraqis’ continuing to fail to meet their commitments. What has been said before is still true: “America supplying more troops while Iraqi leaders simply supply more promises is not a recipe for success in Iraq.”
--Joint statement from Carl Levin and John McCain last night
For months, we were used to seeing stories from the larger newspapers about how divided the Democrats were on Iraq. Against the backdrop of Obama’s soon-to-be-introduced “out by March 2008” resolution comes not one but two stories about what we said weeks ago: the GOP is fracturing over Iraq and facing real peril next year if they go along with the White House and support the surge.
From today’s Washington Post, it is noted that there are at least five different GOP resolutions alone in the works, but the GOP leadership wants a resolution that expresses support for the president’s surge, even though a large majority of the public is against that same policy. Several of the GOP draft resolutions expressly forbid a cutoff of funds for the surge, even though the country is now split on this. But the prevailing thinking inside the caucus seems to be an unwillingness to come out and oppose the surge. This is a recipe for disaster next year for the GOP, yet the story notes the White House wants things to splinter so much in the Senate that no resolution makes it out of Congress.
The story in today’s NYT is more revealing in because it reports that McCain, Lindsey Graham, and Joe Lieberman are working on behalf of the White House to derail not only the Biden-Levin-Hagel resolution from the Foreign Relations Committee, but also the John Warner-Susan Collins alternative. The McCain-Graham-Lieberman alternative has the support of Mitch McConnell and other GOP senators, and would voice support for the president’s surge by putting the onus on the Iraqis through a set of benchmarks. It does nothing to put any limits on the White House. Yet last night, after being disappointed in the response Condi Rice sent to McCain and Levin on the past failures of the al-Maliki government to meet its commitments and what the Bush Administration did about those failures, even McCain conceeded that the White House seemingly wasn't going to hold the Iraqis accountable even now for not meeting their security and economic development commitments to their own cause. So how far will McCain go now to support the White House in light of this newest disappointment?
We aren't surprised that Joe Lieberman would work with the GOP to protect Bush, but it is some comfort to know that the Democrats have agreed to Bush's CYA idea of an Iraq/WOT special advisory committee now that Bush doesn't get to pick Lieberman as one of the Democrats.