August 2006 will be remembered as a watershed in the politics of Iraq. It is the month in which a majority of Americans told pollsters that the struggle for Iraq was not connected to the larger war on terrorism. They thus renounced a proposition the administration has pushed relentlessly since it began making the case four years ago to invade Iraq.
Nearly as significant as the new support for troop withdrawals is the effort of many Republicans to criticize President Bush without taking a firm stand on when the troops should come home.
Other Republicans have taken their distance from the president more subtly. In May Rep. Jim Gerlach (R-Pa.), facing a difficult rematch against Democrat Lois Murphy, called on Congress "to step up and be more assertive in assessing the level of progress" in Iraq. He added: "The Iraqi government needs to know that American patience and support are not blank checks that Iraqi politicians can cash with American lives and tax dollars."
And judging from the Web sites of other Republicans in close races, many would prefer to make the Iraq issue disappear between now and November.
News Flash: it ain't gonna.
The cracking of Republican solidarity in support of Bush on Iraq has short-term implications for November's elections and long-term implications for whether the administration can sustain its policies.
With a growing number of Republicans now echoing Democratic criticisms of the war, Republican strategists will have a harder time making the election a referendum on whether the United States should "cut and run" from Iraq, the administration's typical characterization of the Democrats' view.
It seems as if the Kool-aid has worn off some Rethugs, and they have woken up to the fact that a majority of Americans now consider anyone aligned with Bush to be inveterate liars.
They laid down with dirty dogs and are now trying to get rid of the fleas. Too little, too late.
We need to get out of Iraq. If I were elected President, the announcement that the Iraqis have 'stood up' and we were 'standing down as we speak' would be in my inauguration speech*.