Yesterday, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) said that “by September, when General Petraeus is to make a report, I think most of the people in Congress believe, unless something extraordinary occurs, that we should be on a move to draw those surge numbers down.” Similarly, Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said recently, “The handwriting is on the wall,” adding, “We are headed in a different direction, in the fall, in Iraq. And the president is going to be the one to lead the way.”
As more and more conservatives begin to break away, the fiercest proponents of the current course in Iraq will desperately try to sway public opinion by claiming that the September deadline is too soon and that great progress is being made. Fox News’ pundits are already leading the charge.
This weekend, Brit Hume said the September deadline was “not helpful” and “probably unrealistic.” Fox military commentator Bob Maginnis said “after September, there’s a lot to be done. … It’s going to take a while.” And Fred Barnes claimed Petraeus will report “great progress and say [Baghdad] is heavily pacified. And I think that will increase some of the public support.” Watch it:
While it appears most members of Congress are beginning to coalesce around the need to begin a redeployment in the fall, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) said he is leading an effort to discourage his colleagues “from saying that September is some kind of seminal moment.” And he’ll have no shortage of help from right-wing media outlets who will spin the deteriorating situation in Iraq.
FRED BARNES: And I think when Gen. Petraeus gives his report at the end of September on whether there’s been any progress in Iraq, particularly in securing Baghdad, I think he’s going to report great progress and say that the city is heavily pacified. And I think that will increase some of the public support.
BRIT HUME: And of course what we have now is this whole idea that has taken — it’s out there in the public parlance — about how September is the big month. Not helpful to the president’s cause or to Gen. Petraeus’s efforts. You know, we’re not going to have all the troops on the ground until next month. And basically, they get the balance of the summer to fix the situation. Probably unrealistic.
LT COL BOB MAGINISS: Well, you know I talked to a general yesterday over in Iraq — in Baghdad. He said look, after September, there’s a lot to be done. And if all the momentum is going to stop right after Dave Petraeus reports to the Congress and to the president about our progress, then we’re in trouble. It’s going to take a while.