Republican Presidential Debaters Will Sound Like Jack Murtha Two Years Ago

Now, the stampede. In the South Carolina Republican presidential debate we will see the Republican candidates sounding like the gentleman from Pennsylvania when he warned about the failures of the Bush Iraq policy.

One after another, they will compete to see who can accuse the president of making the greatest mistakes throughout the war.

Republicans in Congress will cringe.

Here is the problem for Republicans who supported the policy in the past, and now criticize what happened in the past, and feel trapped about the policy for the future.

Gen. Ray Odierno said very explicitly last week that he supports continuing the escalation into April 2008, and then, next April, evaluating whether it should continue beyond.

That is what he said. Within hours Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Peter Pace both said Odierno misspoke.

What exactly did Odierno not understand about what he had said? Did he get April 2008 confused with September 2007?

Obviously the general knew exactly what he said, and said exactly what he meant, and therein lies the problem.

The Republican presidential candidates have a major problem, and the more they maneuver, the more they escalate the danger for the Republicans in Congress.

John McCain is now Version Three. In the latest McCain version he always opposed major elements of the policy, while he always voted for the policies he now says he always opposed, while he now says he wants to continue the present policy into the indefinite future.

Mitt tells Mike Wallace how disastrous the previous Iraq mistakes were, while Rudy appears to be maneuvering away from the past Iraq policy, while he supports the current Iraq policy.

Meanwhile congressional Republicans show the president their poll numbers, and then promise to support the present policy, which they don’t like, into the future.

Abe Lincoln said something about fooling some of the people some of the time. The Republican problem on Iraq is that the Republicans find themselves sounding like Jack Murtha when it comes to the past, yet sounding like Dick Cheney when it comes to the future.

I don’t expect the Republican Senate Campaign Committee to throw me a few dimes for political advice, so I will give it for free:

You need to tell the president he needs to change the policy, or vote against the policy if he will not.

In the meantime, before the next Republican debate begins, get out the popcorn and grab the motion-sickness pills; you’re going to need them to keep track of Republicans who oppose their past, support their present and dread their future.

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