As noted in the New York Times.
WASHINGTON, May 9 — Moderate Republicans gave President Bush a blunt warning on his Iraq policy at a private White House meeting this week, telling the president that conditions needed to improve markedly by fall or more Republicans would desert him on the war.
The White House session demonstrated the grave unease many Republicans are feeling about the war, even as they continue to stand with the president against Democratic efforts to force a withdrawal of forces through a spending measure that has been a flash point for weeks.
Participants in the Tuesday meeting between Mr. Bush, senior administration officials and 11 members of a moderate bloc of House Republicans said the lawmakers were unusually candid with the president, telling him that public support for the war was crumbling in their swing districts.
One told Mr. Bush that voters back home favored a withdrawal even if it meant the war was judged a loss. Representative Tom Davis told Mr. Bush that the president’s approval rating was at 5 percent in one section of his northern Virginia district.
“It was a tough meeting in terms of people being as frank as they possibly could about their districts and their feelings about where the American people are on the war,” said Representative Ray LaHood of Illinois, who took part in the session, which lasted more than an hour in the residential section of the White House. “It was a no-holds-barred meeting.”
A year and half after John Murtha originally called for Redeployment of Our Troops from Iraq, prompting his being called a "Cut and Run Coward", being "Senile", "Too emotional", behaving like a "Hitler Sympathiser", accused of trying to "Slow Bleed" our troops and that he should be "Fragged".... Republicans are finally begining to realize that light they see isn't the end of the tunnel, it's an oncoming train.
Although the President did fulfill his promise to Veto the Murtha inspired legislation he was presented by Congress, precisely on the fourth anniversary of "Quagmire:Accomplished" -- it seems that the Republican ranks are completely falling apart, with not only Senator Olympia Snowe (R-ME) putting forth her own set of Iraqi Redeployment and Timetables, but many other Senate and House Republicans are scurrying for higher ground on this issue.
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]
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]
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]
Although I'm certain the President expected that it would be the Democrats who would blink after his Veto since they didn't have the votes to override - it's looking more and more to me that the people that will ultimately decide this argument aren't the Democrats or the President, it's the Congressional Republicans who have now run out of their Visine &trade I-V feeds.
Oh, and it appears that the House is Voting Today on yet another Iraq Withdrawal Bill, this one submitted by Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass) a member of the "Out of Iraq" caucus.
“In a change of plans, House Democratic leaders today plan to bring up legislation that would begin redeployment of U.S. forces and contractors from Iraq not later than 90 days after enactment and to be completed within 180 days before turning to a second Iraq war supplemental,” National Journal reports.
The more Bush stands his ground and stamps his feet like a child, the more the sands shift beneath him and the closer our boys (and girls) finally get to coming home.