As the midterm election looms, the White House is scrambling to respond to comments made by Sen. John Warner, a Bush supporter and chairman of the Armed Services Committee, who said the situation in Iraq is “drifting sideways.”
New York Times:
Speaking to reporters on Thursday after returning from a trip that included a one-day stop in Baghdad, Mr. Warner said the United States should consider “a change of course” if the violence there did not diminish soon. He did not specify what shift might be necessary, but said that the American military had done what it could to stabilize Iraq and that no policy options should be taken “off the table.”
With the blessing of the White House, a high-level commission led by James A. Baker III, the former secretary of state, is already reviewing American policy in Iraq. But the commission is not scheduled to report to Mr. Bush and Congress until after the November elections, a timeline that the White House had hoped would enable Mr. Bush to avoid public discussion of any change of course until after voters determine which party will control Congress next year.
Now, Mr. Warner’s comments are pushing up that timeline, forcing Republicans to confront the issue before some are ready. In an interview on Friday, Senator Susan Collins, a Maine Republican who has been critical of the administration’s approach in the past, said there was a “growing sense of unease” among other Republicans, which she said could deepen because of Senator Warner’s comments.