On Aug. 23, Sen. John Warner (R-VA) called on President Bush to announce on Sept. 15 that approximately 5,000 troops “could begin to redeploy and be home to their families and loved ones no later than Christmas of this year.”
That same day, Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) put out a statement blasting Warner’s proposal, calling withdrawal “irresponsible”:
A majority of the Senate voted to give General Petraeus until mid-September to implement a successful new surge strategy, and any effort to cut short this timeline and set an arbitrary withdrawal deadline is premature and irresponsible. The last thing we need is 535 ‘Generals’ in Congress telling our troops how to win this fight.
Last night, President Bush gave a prime time address on Iraq, announcing a plan that largely mirrors Warner’s proposal. Yet instead of criticizing it as being “irresponsible” and “arbitrary,” Inhofe immediately put out a statement calling Bush’s speech “wise”:
President Bush has resolved to follow the strategic advice of military commanders on the ground rather than be swayed by political attempts to micromanage the war from the halls of Congress. During recent months, General Petraeus successfully implemented a surge in troop levels resulting in visible military improvements. His recommendations come from first-hand experience and a distinguished 35-year long career in the U.S. Armed Forces — the President is wise to heed his advice.
Inhofe isn’t the only official to have a change of heart. The White House itself, in fact, “reached out to Warner’s staff and asked” the senator to back away from his position in August. White House spokesman Gordon Johndroe said that the President believes “setting a specific timetable for withdrawal” would be a “disastrous course of action.”