Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Who wins in this game of chicken?

And who loses? Besides the troops, I mean.

Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo

President Bush gives every indication that he intends to keep troop deployments at their current level through January 2009. Sure, if everyone chills out in Iraq and finally throws him the parade the president is holding out for, he'll begin bringing the troops home. But on planet Earth it's stay through course through 1/09.

The president's ability to pull that off -- both in terms of raw votes and public sentiment -- rests almost entirely on a solid phalanx of support among congressional Republicans and 2008 Republican presidential aspirants. They don't have to be for the president's war or his conduct of it. But they need to stay resolutely opposed to Democratic efforts to end it.

As long as that's the case, as long as the vast majority of Republicans oppose Democratic attempts to end the war, that will keep Democrats (not saying it's right, just observing the dynamics) from really going to the mat over it. And as long as Democrats don't force a major confrontation that keeps it all sort of murky in the public mind who's for or against. But eventually -- maybe as soon as September -- public opposition will become so overwhelming that the Democrats may be willing to really force the matter and not worry about lacking any bipartisan cover. Or maybe by September enough Republicans will see the numbers and give in and give the Democrats their veto-proof majorities.


The truth is that the president is playing a very high-stakes game of chicken with his fellow Republicans. He's driving a hundred miles an hour toward the cliff, way too fast to jump out of the car without risking serious injury. But as the cliff gets closer, they'll start to jump.

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