Iraq News Looms Over 2006

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Recently, anonymous sources within the administration have expressed that the progess in Iraq isn’t going according to plan. In fact, they admit that intial optimism has been met with harsh reality.

Now some Republicans are worrying about what that’s going to mean next year, and rightly so.

From the NY Times:

Republicans said a convergence of events – including the protests inspired by the mother of a slain American soldier outside Mr. Bush’s ranch in Texas, the missed deadline to draft an Iraqi Constitution and the spike in casualties among reservists – was creating what they said could be a significant and lasting shift in public attitude against the war.

The Republicans described that shift as particularly worrisome, occurring 14 months before the midterm elections. As further evidence, they pointed to a special election in Ohio two weeks ago, where a Democratic marine veteran from Iraq who criticized the invasion decision came close to winning in a district that should have easily produced a Republican victory.

“There is just no enthusiasm for this war,” said Representative John J. Duncan Jr., a Tennessee Republican who opposes the war. “Nobody is happy about it. It certainly is not going to help Republican candidates, I can tell you that much.”

Newt Gingrich even weighs into the debate.

“Any effort to explain Iraq as ‘We are on track and making progress’ is nonsense,” Newt Gingrich, a Republican who is a former House speaker, said. “The left has a constant drumbeat that this is Vietnam and a bottomless pit. The daily and weekly casualties leave people feeling that things aren’t going well.”

Republicans, Mr. Gingrich said, should make the case for “blood, sweat and toil” as part of a much larger war against “the irreconcilable wing of Islam.”

And is Bush as much of an asset today as he was in 2002?

“If this continues to drag down Bush’s approval ratings, Republican candidates will be running with Bush as baggage, not as an asset,” Andrew Kohut, president of the Pew Research Center, said. “Should his numbers go much lower, he is going to be a problem for Republican candidates in 2006.”

The near success in Ohio by Democrats was achieved after the party had enlisted an Iraq veteran, Paul L. Hackett, who nearly defeated Jean Schmidt.

The chairman of the Democratic Congressional campaign committee, Representative Rahm Emanuel of Illinois, said he was talking to four or five other Iraq veterans to run in open seats or against weak Republican incumbents.

The chairman of the Senate Democratic campaign committee, Charles E. Schumer of New York, said, “There is no question that the Iraq war, without any light at the end of the tunnel apparent to the American people, is becoming more and more a ball and chain rapidly weighing down the administration.”

Interesting times ahead. And that could be the understatement of the year(s).

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