The media have been giving extensive coverage to the Republican members of Congress who pleaded with President Bush and his senior aides on Tuesday to change course in Iraq.
But these 11 Republicans are not the only conservatives unhappy with the war. Rather, their “unvarnished conversation” with the President reflect misgivings shared by the rest of the party, which is now distancing itself from President Bush. This morning, Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-NE) said that their criticism is “just the tip of the iceberg” of conservative dissent. Some more examples:
The heated meeting between the GOP moderates and Bush continued to reverberate through Capitol Hill yesterday, after several Republican conservatives told reporters that they shared the moderates’ fears that the war is wrecking the party. “There is no liberal-conservative divide on Iraq,” said one House GOP conservative, who spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of angering the White House further. [Washington Post, 5/11/07]
But one conservative House Republican with close ties to the leadership said the concerns expressed by the congressmen in the meeting were widely shared across ideologies. “That wasn’t the Tuesday Group speaking,” he said, referring to an organization of moderate GOP legislators. “No, that’s the Republican sentiment.” [Washington Post, 5/13/07]
While it was Republican moderates who took their complaints directly to the president this week, others in the party expressed similar misgivings on Thursday. [New York Times, 5/11/07]
The meeting’s confrontational tone “was reflective of where the whole [Republican] conference is,” said Rep. Ray LaHood (R-Ill.), a meeting participant. [Washington Post, 5/11/07]
“There is a significant undercurrent that is looking for a reasonable way forward in Iraq,” said Representative Jeff Fortenberry, a conservative Republican of Nebraska, adding that the war is a leading concern for his constituents. [New York Times, 5/11/07]
Several Republicans are considering bipartisan legislation aimed at changing the war’s course. Senators Olympia Snowe of Maine and Lamar Alexander of Tennessee have introduced separate proposals aimed at bringing a gradual end to the war. “We are troubled by the current policy,” Ms. Snowe said Thursday. “The White House needs to hear it.” [New York Times, 5/11/07]