Hearing and Listening

I always wondered how the White House would respond when that dismal day came and the poor Republicans in Congress would have to tell Bush they had had enough. Indeed, we now know that 11 moderate Republicans went to Bush to tell him Tuesday that he has lost credibility on the war and has spent nearly all of their patience. But the characterization of this event by Tony Snow, who I am a huge fan of, almost made me fall out of my chair this morning. It is not another "marching up to Nixon," and "not one of those cresting moments when party discontents are coming in to read the president the riot act," Snow said.

OK, so what is it?

Bush has known this was coming, and if he didn't then Snow and, without question, Karl Rove could each have predicted this for Bush. He himself could have digested information he had been given by his own experts, by Iraq Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and by his political team — that political progress can't happen fast enough in Iraq to keep pace with the public's loss of faith and patience here in America and that this spells devastating consequences for the Republican Party. But is Bush interested in this information and is he interested in helping the Republican Party fight back from defeat? How badly does he want the GOP to keep the White House? These are critical questions. While it was certainly nice of Bush to host his colleagues from the House, and to hear them out, these next few weeks will tell if he was really listening.