John McCain expressed relief earlier this week that the Iraq war is finally "off the front pages." It's not anymore. From the front page of today's Washington Post: "Blast Kills 6 as Troops Hunt Iraqi Insurgents" and "For U.S., the Goal Is Now 'Iraqi Solutions.'"
Seventeen U.S. soldiers have been killed in the first 10 days of January. As "only" 23 were killed in all of December, it seems unlikely that war supporters will be able to claim another month of declining U.S. casualties.
As for those "Iraqi solutions"? To the extent they exist, the Post says that they often bear "little resemblance to the ambitious goals for 2007 that [George W. Bush] laid out in his speech to the nation last Jan. 10." Among other things, Iraqis haven't passed legislation to share oil revenues; they haven't reformed de-Baathification laws; and they haven't established a "fair process for considering amendments to Iraq's constitution."
"For some observers," the Post says, the new emphasis on "Iraqi solutions" indicates a "new realism in Washington, a recognition that long years of grandiose plans drawn from U.S. templates have not worked in Iraq." For others, it "implies a cynical U.S. willingness to turn a blind eye to sectarianism, political violence and a wealth of papered-over problems -- if that is the price of getting the United States out of Iraq."
Which is it for the president? You be the judge. At the White House Tuesday, Bush declared the year 2007 in Iraq -- and particularly the end of it -- to have been "incredibly successful beyond anybody's expectations."