Domenici, Doolittle Want Iraq Mission Change Now
Many other bloggers have been saying that they don’t believe Republican officeholders will defect from Bush on Iraq, whereas I have been saying 1) vulnerable GOP incumbents will defect this fall out of political necessity; and 2) additional GOP House and Senate members can be enticed to defect if Democrats give them a face-saving exit path, such as a mission change to a smaller anti-terror force.
I feel somewhat vindicated this morning at the news that New Mexico’s Pete Domenici has become the latest GOP senator up for election next year who has suddenly listened to his constituents back home on summer recess and has now joined an increasing number of senators who want the Iraq Study Group recommendations adopted for a mission change and pullback by March 2008. In addition, ultra conservative GOP representative John Doolittle, who is facing both an Abramoff-related FBI investigation and another challenge from a strong Democrat next year, suddenly told his constituents yesterday that he no longer supports a combat role for our troops and wants them pulled back now. Doolittle went so far as to call Iraq a quagmire.
Both of these are significant developments. We are justified in taking a “walk the talk” attitude with any GOP senator or representative who says similar things, and Harry Reid is correct to throw the gauntlet down at such death bed converters and tell them to vote their words when the 2008 Defense budget bill comes up for debate. But at the very least, these endangered GOP incumbents are going public in breaking from the president and wanting a change in course and mission, so any waffling by them away from a drawdown or mission change would only make their reelection prospects even more dicey next year.
Despite our well-justified disbelief at such conversions until we actually see the votes, the political calendar was always going to be the ultimate impetus for a drawdown and mission change.