There is no way for White House officials to rationalize what Lugar did. Lugar, ranking Republican and former chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, is likely the most credible voice on foreign policy in the Republican Party today, "unimpeachable," to use a favorite Washington word. He doesn't lower himself to partisan skirmishes, and his comments do not amount to a defection to the Democratic side of the debate. Listen to his plea: He is asking Bush to lead on this so the Democrats don't, and he wants a redeployment and a U.S. presence in Iraq, not a withdrawal.
This week Rep. Pete King (N.Y.), ranking Republican on the House Homeland Security Committee, warned, "The White House should keep in mind that if they have a direct confrontation with House Republicans on [immigration], it could affect the vote on the Iraq appropriations in September." With House Republicans girding for the '08 election, their message to Bush is clear: If you are not part of the solution, you are part of our problem.
President Bush may soon have to choose between the lesser of two Evil I's — drop immigration to salvage solidarity on Iraq, or suffer the consequences.