Bush's Evil I's

Republicans hate the immigration bill and are beginning to hate the war. Yesterday was another terrible day for President Bush, as Sen. Richard Lugar's (R-Ind.) criticism inspired other GOP critics and House Republicans closed the door on immigration reform. In a 114-23 vote of their conference House Republicans resolved that "we stand together in united opposition to any bill that rewards illegal behavior with amnesty." With only 23 Republican votes there isn't much House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) could do to help Bush push immigration through the House, even if she liked him.

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.