Stepping out

A round of applause for Republican leaders in the House. Despite insistence by President Bush that there can be no conditions on the Iraqi government, the House GOP leaders actually want to work with the Democratic majority to find middle ground on the funding for the Iraq war.

Once the Democrats' timeline for withdrawal is vetoed and off the table, Republicans say the benchmarks for political progress that Bush opposes are up for negotiation. Spokesmen for House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) and House Minority Whip Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) said benchmarks, not tied to deadlines, are on the table.

If Bush wants the Iraqis to know, as he has said, that U.S. forces can't stay in Iraq forever, then what does he expect of
their people in working toward the shared goal of a stable Iraqi government? Why are goals for progress "micromanaging,"
as he calls it? He knows we can't do this for them, so why won't he ask them to get started?

Bush enjoyed the support of his fellow Republicans in opposing a withdrawal date, the one Democrats championed to let Iraqis know the commitment of the United States wasn't open-ended. But since Bush's continued opposition to compromise language makes it sound like our support is unconditional, Republicans have decided they will need to step out on their own.