Thursday, May 3, 2007

Republicans Abandoning Bush?

The LA Times is reporting that some Republicans, feeling the heat, are breaking with Bush's stubborn stay-the-course everything-is-OK mission-accomplished position on the Iraq war.

The afterglow of Bush's hollow and lonely victory over Congress by vetoing the Iraq Accountability Act, which would have legislated a timeline for ending US military involvement in Iraq, is quickly fading.

Republican Sen. Susan Collins (ME) said that she didn't see Bush's demand for a "straight" funding bill ("don't ask, don't tell?") without a call for accountability to be "viable." She pointed to a growing bipartisan demand for "benchmarks" and "conditions."

Republican Rep. Charles Boustany Jr (LA) hinted that, contrary to Bush's claims that he alone is the "decider" or the "commander guy" Congress has "to be engaged developing our own proposals and not just going along with what the executive branch is doing."

Republican Rep. Jack Kingston echoed this sentiment by pointing out that the time is ripe for "new ideas."

One of those new ideas is being prepared by Republican Sen. Olympia Snowe (ME) who opposed the Iraq Accountability Act. According to the the LA TImes she has put forward a bill that would require US commanders to prepare withdrawal plans if "benchmarks" for the Iraqi government are not met.

Republican Sen. John Warner (VA) who voted against the Iraq Accountability Act also believes that a compromise with "tough conditions" could be passed in a bipartisan way.

Look for defections from the President's position by others like Republican Sen. Norm Coleman, who is slated to lose his job to Al Franken in Minnesota, Republicans Sen. John Sununu (NH) and Sen. Lindsey Graham (SC).

While these developments are not ideal for the vast majority of Americans who want the war to end, they do reflect the balance of forces in Congress. Likely Democratic proposals will put a short leash on funding and require the president – and Republican members of Congress who will be candidates for reelection in 2008 – to continue to explain the rationale for staying in Iraq. They will be under the gun to explain their plan for bring the war to an end.

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