As John Mulligan reports today in the ProJo, the Senate is continuing to press for changes in policy on the war in Iraq. US Senator Sheldon Whitehouse discussed the same topic when he sat down with me in his Providence office this past Friday. Here's an excerpt from our talk, more of which will be in this week's Phoenix.
Even with some of the weakening Republican support – Senator Domenici, Senator Lugar – the White House shows no sign of backing away from its strategy on Iraq. Do you see a point where US combat troops are withdrawn, and what will it take to bring that about?
This is one of those things like running the battering ram at the door. You don’t just do it once and give it up when the door doesn’t yield. You go back and you run again, and you run again, and you run again, until finally the gates crash down. We’ve taken three pretty considerable runs already at the Iraq strategy. I think that when we get back and the Defense Authorization Bill comes up, that will be the fourth charge. I think we got to 53 votes last time. With the Republican defections, and I think the public ones by Domenici, by Warner, by Lugar, and by others, are a sign of a very significant crumbling of Republican support for the war.
So I think the test is going to be how much can you push and still get the 60 votes that you need? And does it take maybe two runs at it, one to force people to vote, because they’ll talk a tougher game than when they have to put their name next to the Bush administration on Iraq? . . . I do see a constant crumbling of Republican legislative support and unremitting determination from the Democrats to keep banging until the gates come down, and good sense and rational foreign policy can begin to prevail once again.