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Security politics

Per the AP, Armed Services chair Warner will say in his opening remarks at Gates' hearing that Bush has a "'moral obligation' to U.S. troops in Iraq and their families to seek out the views of Democrats as he considers the Iraq Study Group's recommendations along with an internal assessment of U.S. options."  The story also notes, "Aside from saying in hindsight that he would have done some things differently in Iraq if he had been Pentagon chief, Gates has revealed little about his thinking on new approaches to stabilizing the country." 

The Financial Times says of Bush's meeting with a key Shiite leader yesterday, "Although White House officials portrayed the meeting as part of a normal process of consultation with Iraqi politicians, Mr Hakim's visit to the White House fuelled the perception of an administration desperately seeking a new direction." 

"Yesterday's meeting, which followed the president's meeting last week in Amman, Jordan, with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, begins a new effort by the Bush administration to create a dialogue with Iraqi political leaders," per the Washington Times.  "Mr. Bush is scheduled to meet next month with Vice President Tariq al-Hashimi, who is a Sunni, and one senior administration official said top U.S. officials will meet soon with other moderate Sunni, Shi'ite and Kurdish leaders." 

The Boston Globe notes that Bolton's resignation "represents the departure of another early advocate of the Iraq war and adds to a sense of upheaval in Washington this week." 

US Ambassador to Iraq Zalmay Khalilzad, "who has just announced his departure," is a "a much-talked-about candidate to replace Bolton.  Some U.N. officials, however, worry that choosing him would signal a U.S. desire to use the U.N. to facilitate a hasty exit from Iraq." 

The Wall Street Journal says Bolton's resignation "likely pushes [Bush's] administration more to the center as he heads into his final two years in office." 

The Hartford Courant says Bolton's resignation represents the end of a "long, unusually passionate battle" by presidential candidate and Sen. Chris Dodd (D).  "Although Bush did not name Dodd" in his remarks about Bolton yesterday, "analysts said it was clear who bested the president...  Dodd employed tactics he rarely uses to battle a nominee." 

The Financial Times says in recounting recent history on Bolton, "The White House decision last month to re-nominate Mr Bolton - who had needed to be imposed in a recess appointment - was seen by some political analysts as a strategic mistake, undermining Mr Bush's immediate rhetoric of bi-partisanship and was always doomed to fail." 

Roll Call says that because incoming Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has decided "to eliminate extended recesses next year until the traditional August break, it is unlikely that President Bush will have a chance to use his recess appointment authority to install a successor to" Bolton.  "That sets the stage for a pivotal test of Bush's ability to work with Congress' new Democratic leaders as well as his commitment to renewing efforts with Congressional Republicans to present a more united front."

The Hill looks at political contributions made this year by members of the Iraq Study Group, including Jim Baker's $15,000 contribution to the GOP Senate campaign committee and Leon Panetta's $500 contribution to Rep. John Murtha (D).