Is this it?
All day long people have been sending me links to Sen. Richard Lugar's about-face on the Iraq war. The New York Times account is here. I thought the Iraq Study Group report was the beginning of the end, the foundation of a new bipartisan consensus that the war has to wind down, so what do I know about what it will take for Republicans to finally do the right thing? But this seems big to me.
"In my judgment, the costs and risks of continuing down the current path outweigh the potential benefits that might be achieved," Lugar said in a speech Monday night on the Senate floor. "Persisting indefinitely with the surge strategy will delay policy adjustments that have a better chance of protecting our vital interests over the long term." Ohio GOP Sen. George Voinovich, who has been more open with his criticisms of the war, followed Lugar with a letter to President Bush detailing them again.
The question is, now what? Republican senators have talked tough before, and then failed to vote with Democrats to rein in the president. But this comes as the White House, having bought Republican silence until September to give the surge a chance to work (at the cost of countless American and Iraqi lives), is working hard to move the deadline yet again. The administration sent Gen. David Petraeus and U.S. ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker out to the chat shows over the past week to talk about how little we'll know by September, a preliminary step to moving the goalposts again -- and maybe Republicans have finally had enough.
Everyone knows that Iraq still will be in chaos when Petraeus makes his heralded progress report in September -- and everyone, including Lugar, should have known it when the Senate passed the Iraq supplemental funding bill in May. So maybe this is just more cynical posturing. Or maybe Lugar and other Republicans are reading the terrifying Washington Post series on Dick Cheney and finally understanding how impotent and irrelevant they've become. Maybe they'll join Democrats and rescue the world from the Iraq fiasco. It seems obvious that that's the next move, right? But I've been wrong before.