Quote of the Day

Hawkish pundit Bill Kristol warns the president against listening to Republican "calamity-Janes" who want to re-evaluate Iraq policy.

By Alex Koppelman

Published July 9, 2007 9:04PM (EDT)

"Let me be clear: The president ordered the 'surge,' which only recently came to full strength and whose major operation has been going on for less than a month. If he were not to give it a chance to work, he would properly be viewed as a feckless, irresolute president, incapable of seeing his own strategy through a couple of months of controversy before abandoning it. He will have asked our soldiers to go on the offensive, assuming greater risk of casualties--and then, even though the offensive is working better than expected, will have pulled the plug on their efforts. ...

"The best strategy for the president is to hold firm. There is every reason to believe that he can survive the current calamity-Janes of the Republican party (sic) (does anyone really imagine that a veto-proof majority will form in the Senate this week or next?). This nonsense will pass, Congress will go on recess, and Petraeus will have a chance to continue to produce results--and the president and his allies will have a chance to gain political ground here at home. Why on earth pull the plug now? Why give in to an insane, irrational panic that will destroy the Bush administration and most likely sweep the Republican party (sic) to ruin? The president still has a chance to emerge from this as a visionary who could see what the left could not--but not if he gives in to them. There is no safety in the position some in the Bush administration are running towards."

-- the Weekly Standard's Bill Kristol, in a column entitled "Moment of Truth for the President," via The Corner.

It's worth noting a couple things here: First, Kristol is not exactly known for his predictive powers, especially when it comes to Iraq. He is, after all, the man who in April of 2003 said,

"On this issue of the Shia in Iraq, I think there's been a certain amount of, frankly, Terry, a kind of pop sociology in America that, you know, somehow the Shia can't get along with the Sunni and the Shia in Iraq just want to establish some kind of Islamic fundamentalist regime. There's almost no evidence of that at all. Iraq's always been very secular."

Also of note is the first paragraph of Kristol's article, in which he writes, "THE WEEKLY STANDARD (sic) has confirmed that there are real discussions going on the White House, with advocates of what is being called 'The Grand Bargain' pushing hard for the president to move soon to announce plans to pull back in Iraq."

What Kristol appears to be confirming is the substance of an article by David Sanger in today's New York Times, which says that "inside the administration, debate is intensifying over whether Mr. Bush should try to prevent more [Senate Republican] defections by announcing his intention to begin a gradual withdrawal of American troops from the high-casualty neighborhoods of Baghdad and other cities."

Kristol's confirmation is interesting because White House Press Secretary Tony Snow effectively denied the substance of Sanger's story at a briefing today, telling reporters, "No, there's no [debate] -- again, ultimately, the president wants to withdraw troops based on the facts on the ground, not on the matter of politics."

Alex Koppelman

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

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