Saturday, October 07, 2006

Grumbling in the GOP ranks on Iraq

Sen. John Warner and Secretary of State Condolleezza Rice were both in Iraq during the past week. But they saw two different wars. Maybe it all depends on which taxi driver you get.

Rice sees progress:
BAGHDAD, Oct. 5 -- Wearing a helmet and a flak jacket and flanked by machine-gun-toting bodyguards to defend against insurgents, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice came here Thursday, insisting that there were new signs of progress in Iraq and that the Bush administration had never sugarcoated its news about the American occupation.

"It is a quite critical time for the Iraqi government,” Ms. Rice said of the reasons for her brief unannounced visit to the Iraqi capital.

"What the American people see on their television screens is the struggle," she said. "It is harder to show the political process that is going on at local levels, at provincial levels and indeed at the national level." Iraqis, she said, are "making progress."
Warner had a different take:
WASHINGTON -- Sen. John Warner, chairman of the Armed Services Committee, offered his bleakest public assessment of the war in Iraq on Thursday after returning from a daylong tour of the country.

While continuing to support the U.S. mission and counseling patience, the Virginia Republican said security had deteriorated in key regions and the Iraqi government has yet to assert control.

"It seems to me the situation is simply drifting sideways," Warner told reporters after completing his eighth trip to Iraq. "It was a markedly different trip from ones before. We just did not have the freedom and ability to travel where I have been before."
Warner's comments surprised the White House, where they aren't used to people telling the truth.

Why the dissonance? Maybe because, unlike Rice, Warner is running for office and doesn't want that albatross around his neck.

No word on Iraq recently from the co-chair of the Victory in Iraq Caucus, Congressman Mark Green. He used to go to Iraq now and then and come home telling us how great it was going. Oh, that's right; he's running for office, too.


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