But political progress? There are virtually no positive signs right now, and after 18 months of stalling it's unlikely that 18 more weeks are going to make a difference. What's more, I'm inclined to think that there are at least a handful of moderate Republicans who are genuinely serious about abandoning Bush this time around. This time, it looks like six months might really mean six months.
One of the things that I have gotten consistently wrong for a good year and half to two years is my belief that since this was an ill-timed political war, we should see some typical political behavior from the Republican Party to save their own skins. That means significant distancing from President Bush by the Spring of 2005, and running like hell away from him in 2006. That is what I would have predicted and that is what I would have advised for any marginally competitive Republican Congresscritter who would have paid me --- run like hell away from Bush, you'll survive your base and have a chance in the general.
That would have been the politically smart thing to do --- run like hell away from Bush and Iraq and muddy the waters using the DLC Dems who voted to authorize the war and mutually shout at us dirty f**king hippies who have been right about the consequences of Bush's foreign policy for most of this century. Yet they did not and they got hammered in 2006 and they look to be hammered in 2008.
They will not make this significant change in direction for two reasons. First their presidential wannabees are all trying to outflank Bush to the right on Iraq --- you think Bush is crazy and fixated about a simplistic understanding of the world on Iraq, why, just wait, a front runner jokes about "Bomb, Bomb, Bomb Iran" and no one bats an eye, and the others are not even grabbing the incompetence dodge as a shield. Come September or October, the internal political pressure on the GOP Congress Critters are to start lining up behind their White House front runners on policy and provide them with covering talking points and screaming accusations of treason and effiminity against the probable Democratic nominees. The few marginal GOP senators who could conceivable defect will have to make the Chaffee calculation -- defect and still run as a Republican in an anti-GOP year while also massively pissing off the 28%-ers' or appeasing the 28%-ers and hoping that previous pork distribution and local infrastructure is enough to scrape together a win.
We're in Iraq with at least fifteen ground combat brigades and probably closer to twenty ground combat brigades until at least Jan. 21, 2009 unless the Democratic House and Senate are willing to go all in and refuse to pass any supplementals.