The White House is worried that Republican support for its Iraq strategy is collapsing faster than Bush can offer an alternative, the Times reports. The inside plan has been to await a mid-September report on the troop surge’s success, but rapid-fire defections may mean Bush will have to offer concessions in the nearer term.
Politically mortifying pullback legislation looms in a congress, and the White House may be forced to propose the same kind of staged drawdown it has been rejecting all year. The change of strategy would be helped along by new administration pragmatists like Defense Secretary Gates. In a critical twist, no Times source could shed light on Dick Cheney’s clandestine counsel.