Republicans tell Bush Americans no longer trust him

In a blunt face-to-face meeting in the residential area of the White House this week, moderate House Republicans told President George W. Bush he no longer has the trust of them or the American people.

The "come to Jesus meeting" with Bush reminded veteran political observers in Washington of 1974 when then-Senator Barry Goldwater met with President Richard M. Nixon to tell him he no longer had enough support on Capitol Hill to survive as President.

While no one at the meeting called on the President to resign, the Republicans told Bush his administration lacked any credibility when it came to statements about "progress" in the Iraq war and said the American public did not believe the President on the war and other issues.

Unless the war shows "significant progress" by September 1, they warned, Bush faces "massive defections" within GOP ranks from support for his war.

Report Carl Hulce and Jeff Zeleny of The New York Times:

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.”

Several of the Republican moderates who visited the White House have already come under political attack at home for their support of Mr. Bush and survived serious Democratic challenges in November.

Representative Charles W. Dent of Pennsylvania, a co-chairman of the Tuesday Group, an alliance of about 30 moderate Republican lawmakers, helped arrange the meeting. He said lawmakers wanted to convey the frustration and impatience with the war they are hearing from voters. “We had a very frank conversation about the situation in Iraq,” he said.

Even so, the Republicans who attended the White House session indicated that they would maintain solidarity with Mr. Bush for now by opposing the latest Democratic proposal for two-stage financing of war, which is scheduled for a vote on Thursday in the House.

Report Shailagh Murray and Jonathan Weisman of The Washington Post:

Participants in Tuesday's White House meeting said frustration about the Iraqi government's efforts dominated the conversation, with one pleading with the president to stop the Iraqi parliament from going on vacation while "our sons and daughters spill their blood." The House members pressed Bush and Gates hard for a "Plan B" if the current troop increase fails to quell the violence and push along political reconciliation. Davis said that administration officials convinced him there are contingency plans, but that the president declined to offer details, saying that if he announced his backup plan, the world would shift its focus to that contingency, leaving the current strategy no time to succeed.

Davis, a former chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, also presented Bush dismal polling figures to dramatize just how perilous the party's position is, participants said. Davis would not disclose details, saying the exchange was private. Others warned Bush that his personal credibility on the war is all but gone.

Snow, who sat in on the meeting in the president's private quarters, said it should not be overdramatized or seen as another "marching up to Nixon," a reference to the critical moment during Watergate in 1974 when key congressional Republicans went to the White House to tell President Richard M. Nixon that it was time to resign.

"This is not one of those great cresting moments when party discontents are coming in to read the president the riot act," he said. But Snow acknowledged that the meeting included some blunt, if respectful, discussion.

Davis stressed that Republicans will remain united against the Democratic bill in the House today. But the search for an exit is almost inevitable. "The key for everybody is to try to find a way to declare victory and get out of there," he said.

Comments

  1. gene

    Bill I totally agree with you and I certainly don’t consider in unreasonable. I’m just wondering though if this were to be taken literally… that mabe a black helicopter would be flying over your house and guys (dressed in black) might want to entertain you. OOPS… something just landed in my front yard. I better run….literally!!!!

  2. anthny

    anthny
    As of right now Jane Harman is preaching on C-Span and telling us that the terrorists are right here in the US and waiting for the right moment to attack us.
    You see they the Politicians are fear mongers and are trying in vain to scare the shit out of the sheep.
    If the gang of 11 had a pair of nuts they would read Bush the riot act instead of kissing his ass. But such is life under a dictator. And you know Georgie loves to be the decider in cheif. I wonder who controls these terror cells?
    Is it the agency that created them or are they just a figment of an over active imagination.
    Even though the war seemed real the day it started and people are dying in Iraq and Afganistan, the war is a sham to take out the constitution of the United States. And to steal as much money from the poor and aged and children who the US used to have compassion for.
    It’s time to take a real hard look at partisian politics and vote your compassionate conscience,
    if there will be voting left intact in 2008.

  3. Bill Robinson

    September is only 4 months away–about 120 or so days. With the KIA rate in Iraq running at slightly over 3 soldiers per day that is 360 more unnecessary deaths of our soldiers that will occur. I suggest that if Congress does not act now to withdraw the troops immediately, we hold a blind drawing. I propose that we take the names of all the members of Congress, Senate and House, and toss them into a hat. Then we draw 360 names from the hat. Those 360 unlucky congressmen or senators will be put against a wall and shot as traitors for not ending the war when they had just cause and ample time.
    With those who remain I suggest that we draw 3 names a day and execute them for the same reason. This could continue until they are all gone, or until they come to their senses.
    Then we hold a national drawing to replace the executed congress persons. Random, from anywhere. Any citizen can enter. They become the new 3 year, one term congress person from their district.
    It won’t be necessary to have this national drawing because I believe that congress will end the war and bring the troops home before the first of them is executed.
    If this is too radical for you readers then I suggest you try to imagine being one of the troops in Iraq, knowing that 3 people will be killed today and you might be one of those three.
    I don’t think any soldiers believe they are immortal–and they have to be scared if they have an iota of sense, so it’s only fair to them that we serve up those who are delaying the withdrawl in place of those who were sent off to die in an unjust, unnecessary war.
    Bring our troops home now–NOW.

  4. JudyB

    If only it had been another “Marching up to Nixon moment”… we might be seeing some light at the end of this seemingly endless dark tunnel!

  5. Steve Horn

    I agree with Kent – if you ever needed evidence to convince you that term limits were a good idea – look at congress. There is no concern for the business of the people, there’s only a concern to keep corporate profits propped up so you can line your pockets while drawing a healthy bit of cash from the nation.

    Three terms for representatives, two terms for senators, no influence selling, consulting or other activities in or around the government for a minimum of ten years after leaving office – it’s the only way we’ll get civic minded, honest men and women into the national level of government.

    Oh – and – much like those who work on defense contracts – how about a six month polygraph schedule for our government officials with unconditional termination should they fail. If it’s good enough for those who develope the systems it should be fine for those who authorize and use them.

    Peace

    Steve

  6. kent shaw

    Janice wrote: “These politicians do not get it. Are they so removed from reality that they do not understand that people are dying as a direct result of their action – and inaction? Is it so incomprehensible to them that they could be wrong?!? Are they really that stupid?”

    No. They are not stupid. They represent the Military-Industrial-Energy complex. The article made it very clear they are worried about their jobs, not about the troops. They are arrogant, selfish, cruel and uncaring (expletive deleted) until it comes to the bottom line. Profits are up and thats all that counts.

  7. Steve Horn

    I thought Bush already “found” Jesus and found sobriety! Perhaps he’s fallen off of that wagon as well …

    This “meeting” – leaked with great care – is just another political bamboozle – another example of trying to be politically “safe” while brave men and women are sacrificed.

    Stop the madness – Tony Blair announced his departure from the office of PM today – George W. should be encouraged to follow in his example.

    Peace

    Steve