Who’s next to defect on Iraq?

After the recent defection of prominent Republicans on the Iraq war, the big question in Washington is who might be next.

More than a dozen Republican senators who are running for re-election next year head the list of lawmakers to watch. But others, too, have expressed concerns that the GOP has grown increasingly vulnerable on the issue. As the clock ticks toward Election Day, voter pressure is building against any lawmaker still standing with President Bush on the war.

Potential wildcards include members up for re-election who have broken with the president on other issues such as immigration or who face growing anti-war sentiment in their home states. Those include Sens. Saxby Chambliss of Georgia, Ted Stevens of Alaska, Pat Roberts of Kansas, Michael Enzi of Wyoming, James Inhofe of Oklahoma and Jeff Sessions of Alabama.

Norm Coleman of Minnesota already has expressed grave doubts about the president’s Iraq policies, but he hasn’t signed on yet to legislation calling for a change in strategy.

Support among Republican senators is considered crucial to Bush’s Iraq policy. Democrats hold a narrow 51-49 majority and routinely fall shy of the 60 votes needed to cut off debate and advance most anti-war legislation.

But new cracks in Bush’s support base have begun to show. In the past two weeks, three Republicans — Sens. Richard Lugar of Indiana, George Voinovich of Ohio and Pete Domenici of New Mexico — have announced they can no longer support Bush’s Iraq war strategy and have called on the president to start reducing the military’s role there.

Their announcements took many by surprise because most Republicans have said they are willing to hold out until September to see if Bush’s troop buildup is working.

“I have carefully studied the Iraq situation and believe we cannot continue asking our troops to sacrifice indefinitely while the Iraqi government is not making measurable progress to move its country forward,” Domenici told reporters from New Mexico this week. Instead, Domenici embraced a bipartisan bill by Colorado Democrat Ken Salazar that would put U.S. troops on track to leave by the end of March 2008.

A spokesman for the White House, Tony Fratto, said that position amounts to the same approach sought by the Democrats, “which is, in fact, a precipitous withdrawal.”

“We think that’s absolutely the wrong way to go,” Fratto said Friday. “It would be dangerous.”

Domenici’s remarks were a switch for the 34-year Senate veteran and GOP stalwart. Just three months earlier, he scolded Democrats for a proposal to fund the troops but order them home this fall. While he is still likely to oppose such legislation, Domenici’s rhetoric has changed substantially since April when he said he was committed to giving the military the “time and resources to try to calm Baghdad.”

Domenici’s term in Congress expires next year, alongside 20 other GOP senators. Of those, a dozen or more are expected to run for re-election. Four have signed on to Salazar’s legislation: Domenici, Susan Collins of Maine, John Sununu of New Hampshire and Lamar Alexander of Tennessee.

Sen. Gordon Smith of Oregon, also running for re-election, came out earlier this year in support of separate Democratic legislation ordering troops home this fall.

The wildcards in the debate are senators, like Roberts, Stevens and Chambliss, who have staunchly defended Bush but are watching his poll numbers drop.

Others include senators like Christopher Bond of Missouri who won’t face voters next year but want to take back control of Congress from the Democrats and have expressed concerns about the lack of progress in Iraq.

Sen. John Warner, whose term is up in 2008 but who is undecided on whether to run again, is expected to propose legislation this month calling for a new strategy.

Sensing the shift, administration officials have reached out to Republicans posing alternative scenarios in Iraq to gauge political support, according to one Senate aide.

Sen. Olympia Snowe, among the first Republicans to call for a phased withdrawal of troops, said she wouldn’t be surprised to see more of her colleagues follow suit because the Iraqi government has failed to live up to most of its political promises. She is not up for re-election next year.

“I think (Domenici) is reflecting that depth of frustration” among all members, said Snowe, R-Maine, in a phone interview Friday. “The big question is exactly what everyone’s going to be able to support that represents a change in course.”

As pressure builds for a change in Iraq policy, a top U.S. commander there warned Friday that drawing down troops too soon would create more problems.

“You’d find the enemy regaining ground, re-establishing sanctuary, building more” roadside bombs, Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch told a Pentagon news conference. “The violence would escalate. It’d be a mess.”


  1. Klaus Hergeschimmer

    The Bullkrap is so thick with this administration that you need wings to fly over it.

    Gene, you were saying what would the PNAC folks be feeling if they were shipped over to the front lines. Old Wolfowitz sort of got a taste of it when he was in the al-Rashid hotel on October 26, 2003 when a Rocket attack hit just one floor below where Wolfo-Baby was. He was reported to be pretty shaken up. An American colonel was killed & 16 wounded.
    I recall seeing the video footage of him and he was being usherd along by
    soldiers along a smoke filled hallway, his hair was all tussled and he had this ashen, pale, and befuddled look on his face which warmed my heart.




  2. gene

    Thanks for the information (Klaus) and obviously I am not surprised…just sick of these clowns being allowed to continue to lie, murder and destroy. I did not vote for Bush either time and I watched in horror as so many did. All you had to do was read his personal history, including his family. Made the hairs stand up on my toes, what few I have. I think at times this nation (in the recent past) underwent a lobotomy. I believe thats considered psychosurgery, it obviously worked or was very effective in allowing this evil to totally consume this nation in just a few short years. I guess that makes sense…Oh well, think I need a drink!!!! and (LFTL) if you read this, I’m going to dissolve two ativan in this drink.

  3. gene

    (Helen) above..be careful stepping off your “soapbox” could break an ankle. Your comment was excellent and reflects my feelings perfectly. I am also a veteran with over 20 years active duty in the Army. I just read another article on (msn.com) describing the deaths of over 125 Iraqi (mostly women, children, and the elderly) somewhere north of Baghdad. I would fine it absolutely impossible to serve under this current administration. I retired in 1996 but I know their are many serving now that are disgusted for all the reasons you stated and more.

    A current article here at CHB has a picture of Bush and Cheney with Cheney seemingly looking over Bush’s shoulder. The photo makes me sick, angry, and horrified that men like this now “rule”
    whats left of this nation.

  4. Helen Rainier

    Gene — thanks for your kind words. Thanks also for your service for our country. I currently live near not only an Army base (Ft. Lewis) but also an Air Force base (McChord). As such, I frequently encounter active military personnel. When I see anyone here on active duty, I take a few minutes to talk with them, shake their hand and thank them for their service. It’s a small thing, I realize, but it is my way of being able to let them know I appreciate them and support them. It also surprises me how many of them, in this type of setting, will acknowledge they do not support this administration’s leadership. And, I will be careful getting off of soapboxes! 😉

  5. Wayne K Dolik

    The Iraq war was doomed from the beginning. Those in charge never served in an active war. They decided that they knew better than our Generals from West Point.

    Occupation requires 1 Military per every 50 Civilians. So, the ex-ceo’s decided to fight the war on the cheap. That is the mess that we are in now.

  6. SEAL

    Helen, this statement by you:
    “You don’t have to be a rocket science to see that this has plunged into the crapper financially, but is also defeating our ability to defend ourselves against a real threat.”
    is not true.

    They have rendered our ability to “invade” or “occupy” a country next to impossible but the “defense” of our nation does not depend on the troops of the Army. Our defense is in the hands of the Navy and the Air Force. Our air power and our missles and the ability to deliver it anywhere in the world in a matter of minutes is what prevents any thought of attacking the United States or any of the territories we are commited to defend. We have the ability to blow the hell out of anyone, anywhere, any time. However, we do not have an Army to follow up and invade to occupy as we did in Iraq due to the damage these idiots have done to the Army. They are worn out and under equipted right now. It would take at least two years of no combat to bring them back up to minimum standards. That is,if the money allocated was spent on them and not given to Halliburton.

  7. Klaus Hergeschimmer

    There is not one single thing I can think of that
    this administration has done that is helping this country,not a single thing.


  8. Renbook

    As horrible as Bush’s war policy has been, it is even more disturbing that so few Republicans have opposed it. When Richard Nixon was President, he faced some Republican opposition over the Vietnam War, and over wage & price controls. Bush senior also faced Republican opposition, and both Nixon & Bush senior faced opponents in the primary when they sought re-election.

    Congressman Ron Paul has been the only consistent opponent of Bush’s war and Bush’s big government. But Ron Paul is more a Libertarian than a Republican.

    Gene Berkman

  9. gene

    Another very good post (klaus). This monster we call
    a president is incrediable. What a looser, egomaniac,
    piece of garbage.

    Skinning his incrediably sorry ass
    on national TV (alive) would be too good for him.

  10. Klaus Hergeschimmer

    Do the Republikaners as well as the Jack-Ass-Krats really have a realistic expectation that after a ‘re-deployment’ that the McSuperEmbassy and permanent military installations will be able to function without still taking
    casualties in significant numbers.

    Of course most are seeking political cover, but after Billions of Bucks have been invested in the McSuperEmbassy and permanent military installations, I still think the Big Halliburton Buck In The Sky is something that still is beholden in their Eyes.

    I don’t know if this is an appropriate analogy, but if
    the levels of our troops our down by a half with no improvement in the Iraqi civil war, it could be a Khe Sanh or Dien Bien Phu type of situation to some extent with islands of high security military installations, the Embassy, right in the middle of militias attacking at the perimeters of these installations; islands in the middle of total anarchy and I just can’t believe that these installations would be completely self-sufficent, they just can’t stay in Fort Apache all the time. They would be vulnerable in some ways because their still is a need to venture out of the high security installations and interact with the population for basic services, a significant amount of the population which are largely intent on killing our soldiers.

    Most Republikaners and chunks of Demokrats are still dreaming about having ‘some’ troops there. There just is no indication that Nouri al-Maliki has or ever will be able to reign in the factions.

  11. gene

    Isn’t it amazing (Will) how these dip shits can make statements like you quoted above. I wonder just how fast
    these (dip shits) would change their minds if we could load them all on several (747s) and fly them straight to the front line in Iraq.

    Do I here someone changing their minds (at light speed)and crying for their mother.

  12. Will Write

    White House spokesman Tony Fratto: “We think that’s [precipitous withdrawal] absolutely the wrong way to go. It would be dangerous.”

    Wow. We pay him for this.

    The reason why George Bush and Dick Cheney should resign is that Iraq wasn’t dangerous prior to Shock and Awe — before 3,600 US lives were lost and tens of thousands of young men and women were wounded and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis have died and millions more displaced, and half a trillion dollars squandered with no end in sight — because withdrawal would be dangerous. Iraq was contained and Sadam kept the lid on religious and ethnic strife and served as a natural buffer to Iran, until Bush and Cheney fabricated lies to drag us into a now lost cause that they tell us we can’t get out of because it would be “dangerous”.

    George Bush and Dick Cheney are dangerous. The American People and the world would be a safer place if they withdrew from public office precipitously. Polls show 54% of Americans want to impeach Cheney, while the percentage of us who want to PUSH BUSH out the door is in the high 40’s.

  13. SEAL

    According to the American Research Group Poll taken yesterday, 45% of voters favor impeaching Bush and 46% are opposed. For Cheney, the numbers were 54% for and 40% against. Considering that, it appears unlikely that Bush will be able to prevent by veto any legislation on the Iraq war passed and sent to him this September.

    The trick will be to come up with a bill everyone in the senate can live with. These republican defectors are not going to agree to any massive withdrawals and they will not want to set any deadlines for ending the war. The bill will be some sort of “reduction” of troops as a “phased redeployment.” The word “withdrawal” won’t be included.

    Speaking as a military man I am very upset at the conditions Bush has created for our troops. Not only the senseless and stupid manner in which he has conducted the entire war but this recent surge that will cause more American deaths when the withdrawal begins than would have occurred if he had not done this. Once again his lack of concern for others will cause suffering for everyone else. He never stopped to think that brutalizing the people of Bagdad with his surge would be followed by reducing the number of troops when it failed, leaving them exposed to an angry retaliatory mob with a bomb under each arm.

    The “surge” has amounted to a house by house search of kicking down the doors of innocents and guilty alike. We made a lot of new enemies and we will pay for that. All due to Bush’s self absorbtion.

  14. gene

    (46%) of voters opposed to impeaching that idiot we have for a president, hard to believe Seal. Lots of blind, stupid, cluless, morons living in this nation. In fact it has become a nation of morons. The end can’t be for off.

  15. Helen Rainier

    Who do these “defectors” think they are kidding? It is my belief that the ONLY reason they are “speaking out” now is because their entire party is in great danger of being wiped out in the next federal election cycle. They had an opportunity a few months ago to put their money where their mouths are when the Iraq Supplemental Spending Bill was up for vote — and they chose their fricking party loyalty over loyalty to supporting and defending the Constitution of the United States as they take an OATH to do each time they are sworn in. We, the People are revolting in words and insisting on action, the Republican Party financial donations are way down, and long entrench Republicans in real danger of being kicked out of office. The real traitors of this country are all the federal legislators who insist in continuing this war. You don’t have to be a rocket science to see that this has plunged into the crapper financially, but is also defeating our ability to defend ourselves against a real threat. They don’t give a damn about any human life that is not in their circle — the Iraqi civilians and our service people who are fulfilling their contracts to serve honorably. What are our troops getting for their honorable service? Leaders who lie with every word out of their money, leaders who are talking the talk but don’t have the gonads to walk the walk. My distrust and contempt for this current government has crossed from anger to outright hatred for every thing they say and do. And yes, I am an Army veteran, damned proud of it and appalled with the disgusting lack of leadership by example and not of words. Each and every one of a POS that stinks to high heaven. Even a dung beetle wouldn’t touch these blabbering, blithering idiots. (stepping off soapbox)