Republicans are trying to sell this as a major drawdown, a concession to Americans' current mood, but in fact it is more "stay the course."
At the same time, leading Democrats, who were much more aggressive on Tuesday in challenging the general, dismissed his proposal of a reduction of 30,000 troops as little more than window dressing. They said President Bush and Congressional Republicans were embracing an open-ended, long-term commitment of personnel and money to a civil war in Iraq.Bush's insistence on pursuing this war makes it certain that next year's federal elections will be a referendum on this policy. In the words of Sen. Harry Reid, "This war is the president’s war, and the Republicans have bought this war hook, line and sinker." The Republican Party is gambling everything on turning around the situation in Iraq in the next year and winning back the support of the American people for the war. The problem with this choice by the Republican leadership is that American servicemen and women are now dying in Iraq simply to give the Republican Party a fighting chance in November 2008, not for any realistic chance of success in Iraq.
After a meeting at the White House, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the effort to present the limited troop withdrawal as a major shift in policy amounted to "an insult to the intelligence of the American people."
This strategy involves massive risks for the Republican Party. If things do not improve, or grow worse, then the Republican Party will lose the presidency and will also give up additional seats in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives. This would be followed by massive and far ranging investigations that would reveal things about the Republican conduct of the war and corruption that will, I believe, cast the Republican Party out of power for twenty years--with commensurate impacts on key policy, the national agenda, and the makeup of the U.S. Supreme Court.
In about fourteen months we will know what the outcome of the Republican Party's great gamble in Iraq is and whether Republicans will be able to live with it.