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Security Politics

Covering the president's interview with PBS yesterday, USA Today says Bush criticized the handling of Saddam Hussein's execution. "Bush said the hanging showed that Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's government 'still has some maturation to do' as U.S. and Iraqi forces make a new push to secure Baghdad."

The Washington Post adds that Bush admitted in the interview his Iraq policy "was headed to 'a slow failure' until he changed course last week" -- "perhaps the president's frankest admission that the previous strategy was not working." More: "'I had a choice to make,' Bush said. 'Do what we're doing -- and one could define that maybe a slow failure. Secondly, withdraw out of Baghdad and hope for the best. I think that would be expedited failure. And thirdly is to help this Iraqi government with additional forces -- help them do what they need to do, which is to provide security in Baghdad.'" 

The New York Times: "The interview on PBS was the second shown in three days in which Mr. Bush went into detail acknowledging setbacks and public frustration. 'If you were to take it and put me in an opinion poll and said, "Do I approve of Iraq?" I'd be one of those that said, "No, I don't approve of what's taking place in Iraq,"' Mr. Bush said in the interview. 'On the other hand, I do believe we can succeed,' he said."

The New York Times also covers Sen. Hagel's participation in crafting the Senate's non-binding resolution on Bush's Iraq plan. "Mr. Hagel said the intent of the resolution was not to 'bash the president' or to call for the immediate withdrawal of United States troops from Iraq, but a responsible way for senators to register their opinion on the increase of more than 20,000 additional troops announced by Mr. Bush last week."

The AP observes that the Senate resolution will put many Republicans on the spot. "They will have to decide whether to stay loyal to an unpopular GOP president and risk angering voters disillusioned by the war or buck the party line."

The Wall Street Journal adds, "Much as Democrats are emboldened by November's victories, they also have their own divisions on the issue. And Mr. Bush, whose powers as commander in chief give him immense leverage, has said he has no intention of backing down."