The White House reaction to Dick Lugar's tough talk on Iraq? A shrug.

Published June 26, 2007 6:29PM (EDT)

As we were saying: Tony Snow was asked today for the White House's reaction to Richard Lugar's tough talk on Iraq. He shrugged.

Reporter: I'm taking from what I heard in the gaggle and from the shrug right now that you don't find this very significant.

Snow: I don't know -- look, Dick Lugar is a serious guy, so obviously you take it seriously. But on the other hand, again, he voted against the -- he voted against the surge.

Of course, as we noted earlier today, Lugar did not, in fact, vote against the surge. He raised doubts about the wisdom of the surge, then got in line behind the president when it came time for voting. But we shouldn't interrupt.

Snow: [Lugar] is somebody who has had reservations. We take seriously his point of view because he is a serious guy. On the other hand, we also take seriously the efforts and the advice that the president has gotten from his commanders on the ground and also the continuing cooperation not only with the commanders on the ground but also Ambassador Crocker and working with our colleagues in the Iraqi government.

Reporter: But most Republicans have said they're willing to wait until September. Obviously, you need political support to continue with this.

Snow: Yes.

Reporter: And a lot of Republicans have said they'll wait until September. But you got Dick Lugar last night saying, "The United States has violated some basic national security precepts during our military engagement in Iraq. We have overestimated what the military can achieve."

Snow: Well, again, obviously we disagree with him on that. On the other hand, we also agree with him when he was taking some of the critics to task for some of the things that they have said. Here is -- look, it is a complex situation on the war. Duh. On the other hand, we also know that there are going to be reports to Congress in the middle of July and the middle of September about how ...

Reporter: But are you worried this is yet another voice and the trickle will eventually burst the dam?

Snow: No. But, again, this is Dick Lugar repeating a position. I think if you take a look at what his own people have said, they said it's consistent with what he said in the past.

Reporter: But, Tony, doesn't it move the debate back to now instead of waiting to September? By Sen. Lugar coming out right now, doesn't it focus on this in a way that you don't want people to focus?

Snow: No, what we've been trying to do is be straight with everybody about the difficulties of proceeding and trying to make sure that people are getting information in a timely fashion about what's going on ... [I]t is the purpose of American policy to build capability at all levels so that the Iraqis can do so ... And obviously, Dick Lugar is giving what he thinks is his best advice. And we certainly appreciate it and take it seriously. But we also believe that it is very important to go ahead and let the surge, number one, finish getting put in place, and, second, let's see what results it produces.

By Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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