While Warner insisted that his amendment was not intended in any way to embarrass the administration, numerous observers pointed out that its wording was based on a nearly identical Democratic proposal. The latter’s only difference was that it would have required the White House to provide more specific information in its reports, including “estimated dates for the phased redeployment” of U.S. troops out of Iraq.

Even Democratic Sen. Joseph Lieberman, a strong backer of the Iraq war who has consistently opposed setting any deadline for U.S. withdrawal, said the Warner Amendment’s passage marked a possible “turning point” in the Iraq war and the end of Congress’ acquiescence in its management by the Bush administration.

In several high-profile speeches over the past week, apparently designed to retake the political offensive, Bush and his national security adviser, Stephen Hadley, have insisted that Democrats had access to the same intelligence as the administration and reached the same conclusions about the threat allegedly posed by Iraq. But these counterattacks have so far drawn scorn from both their targets and independent political analysts.

“Bush is shooting blanks,” one congressional aide told IPS. ~Jim Lobe, Antiwar.com

Things have certainly changed. Two years ago, you could scarcely find an elected Republican who would say one word against Mr. Bush and his policies, and when any Republican did speak up it was largely intended to help cover Mr. Bush’s frequently self-exposed flanks. Even a year ago, Republican doubters were limited to making criticisms of certain aspects of the way Mr. Bush was carrying out his policy, but they would never take their criticisms to the Senate floor. The quibbling about tactics seems to be over among Republicans, and the polite sufferance of the incompetents in this administration has apparently come to an end. Mr. Bush’s repetitious, uninspiring arguments that have been rehashed and rehashed a hundred times since his fateful State of the Union speech in 2002 have even fallen flat with the majority of the men who have been his active accomplices in this ugly affair. It is well past time that something like this happened. For the GOP Senators, it reeks of political desperation and will not necessarily help them in the coming election year.

Advertisement