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Thursday, May 10, 2007

GOP looking for "a way to declare victory and get out of there"

Last week I made a list of vulnerable Republicans who had, once again, voted to give President Bush a blank check in Iraq. Today we read about the Tuesday Group in this article by Shailagh Murray and Jonathan Weisman in the Washington Post. Per the article, the Tuesday group includes the following Republicans who are having second thoughts about rubber stamping their political futures to George Bush's war in Iraq:

Charlie Dent (PA-15)
Thomas M. Davis III (VA-11)
Michael N. Castle (DL)
Todd R. Platts (PA-19)
Jim Ramstad (MN-03)
Jo Ann Emerson (MO-08)

Now, while Steve Soto has taken a sage "I'll believe it when I see it position" on this meeting, the Washington Post article does show on the record statements of two of the participants that reveal a break in Republican rhetoric.

Here is what Congressman Tom Davis (VA-11), an immensely popular GOP incumbent in a trending Democratic district, had to say:

"People are always saying President Bush is in a bubble. Well, this was our chance, and we took it." [...] Davis, a former chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, also presented Bush dismal polling figures to dramatize just how perilous the party's position is, participants said. [...]

Davis stressed that Republicans will remain united against the Democratic bill in the House today. But the search for an exit is almost inevitable. "The key for everybody is to try to find a way to declare victory and get out of there," he said.

This may have been a staged event as Steve Soto indicates, but the rhetoric leaking out of it is not Bush "happy talk" either. Descriging Bush as in a bubble and the GOP as "looking for a way to declare victory and get out of there" sounds pretty close to a truth that Democrats have been saying for years: the Republican "exit stategy" in Iraq is one that has everything to do with politics and little to do with common sense facts on the ground. Victory, as Bush's recent talk of "acceptable levels of violence" indicates, was never about freedom, democracy or even defeating the "thugs" as the President is wont to call the Iraqi insurgents and competing factions in Iraq. 'Victory in Iraq' is the political fig leaf the Republican Party will concoct when moderates like those in the Tuesday Group finally tell the President that his blank check has bounced.

Tony Snow's quotes are particularly revelatory:
Snow, who sat in on the meeting in the president's private quarters, said it should not be overdramatized or seen as another 'marching up to Nixon' [...] "This is not one of those great cresting moments when party discontents are coming in to read the president the riot act," he said.

In general, anytime the a President with 28% approval ratings is sending out his spokesman to say, "Hey, I'm not Nixon here!" you know that you've got a White House that is off message and deep in its own doo-doo.

My question is this, when will smart, credible Democratic candidates start popping up in all the districts occupied by Tuesday Group Republicans? Given realities in Washington, that's when the pressure really gets turned on.

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