Conservatives Are Cracking On Iraq

President Bush has emerged from the recent veto battle more politically isolated on Iraq than ever.

Despite spending weeks using his bully pulpit to blister war critics with rhetoric about “abandoning troops” and “timetables for retreat,” public opinion has shifted further away from his position, and conservatives in Congress are breaking ranks.

This is a major success. A key to bringing an end to this war is for Bush’s supporters to finally demand a change. We’re getting closer every day:

Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME):


“Obviously, the president would prefer a straight funding bill with no benchmarks, no conditions, no reports,” said Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine). “Many of us, on both sides of the aisle, don’t see that as viable.” [LA Times, 5/3/07]

Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME)

A likely sticking point is whether to include penalties if the Iraqi government fails to meet the benchmarks. Democrats, and some Republicans such as Senator Olympia Snowe of Maine, insist that there be consequences for falling short, such as a loss of U.S. financial support or the withdrawal of some coalition forces.

“We can’t be there in an open-ended fashion,” Snowe said. “We have to say: how long does it really take to pass the benchmarks?” [Bloomberg, 5/2/07]

Rep. Mike Castle (R-DE):

Rep. Mike Castle (R-Del.), a leading moderate, said many Republicans are looking for a way out of Iraq, and he hopes that the Democrats will work with them after Bush likely vetoes the $124 billion war supplemental this week. “I think a lot of us feel that the time has come for us to look for solutions to bring this war to a close,” Castle said. “And I don’t think that’s just a feeling among moderate Republicans but among Republicans in general.” Castle said Republicans of all stripes “are very reluctant to put in dates on our Army” but said that other ideas, including Blunt’s talk of a “consequences package” for the Iraqi government, could bring the parties together. [Roll Call, 4/30/07]

Sen. Norm Coleman (R-MN):

“I think we’re still in a fairly toxic political environment,” said Sen. Norm Coleman (R-Minn.), who opposed the president’s troop buildup but voted against the Democratic withdrawal plan. “And I think it will continue like this for a while. That’s the reality.” [LA Times, 5/3/07]

Rep. Bob Inglis (R-SC):

But a new dynamic also is at work, with some Republicans now saying that funding further military operations in Iraq with no strings attached does not make practical or political sense. Rep. Bob Inglis (S.C.), a conservative who opposed the first funding bill, said, “The hallway talk is very different from the podium talk.” [Washington Post, 5/3/07]

Rep. Charles Boustany (R-LA)

“We have to be engaged developing our own proposals and not just going along with what the executive branch is doing,” said Rep. Charles Boustany Jr., a Louisiana Republican who voted against the Democratic plan to force Bush to start withdrawing troops. [LA Times, 5/3/07]

Rep. Jack Kingston (R-GA):

Rep. Jack Kingston, a Georgia Republican who has supported Bush’s war strategy even as the public has turned against it, said, “The marketplace has become ripe for a new idea.” [LA Times, 5/3/07]