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Security Politics

Bush tells USA Today in an interview that he "can't guarantee that all U.S. troops will be out of Iraq by the end of his presidency because 'we don't set timetables.'"  He "believes Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki can clamp down on sectarian violence, and he warned Iran not to aid Iraqi insurgents."  And he "said he'll use Tuesday's speech to assuage skeptics in both parties about his new Iraq plan." 

He also tells the paper that he's not worried about his legacy: "'You can ask the legacy question 20 different ways...  People are going to analyze my presidency for a long time.  All you can do is do the best you can, make decisions based upon principles and lead.'" 

Bloomberg says that Iraq "may consign [Bush] to the bottom tier of U.S. leaders.  That's the view of a number of historians and presidential scholars, who say that unless Bush's decision to inject some 20,000 more troops succeeds in quelling sectarian violence, he risks joining the ranks of such poorly regarded American leaders as James Buchanan and Warren G. Harding."  Other historians "are reluctant to give Bush flunking grades just yet, saying Iraq is just one battlefield in a multi-front war on terrorism and cautioning that it's premature to declare the intervention a failure." 

The Washington Post, noting Bush's consistency on Iraq, asks this question: "If people really admire consistency, how is it that Bush's ratings have fallen so low?"  The story suggests that "people think they admire consistency more than they actually do...  When voters say they want consistency from a politician, in other words, they may really mean they want a leader who consistently agrees with them." 

On NBC's Meet the Press yesterday, Sen. John McCain (R) once again used the example of Sen. Joe Lieberman's re-election as evidence that Americans didn't necessarily vote in the midterms to change US policy in Iraq.  What McCain didn't note is that five of his former colleagues who supported the Administration's stay-the-course all lost, and 50% of Connecticut voters opposed Lieberman in his three-way race. 

McCain also said he's inclined to oppose Bush's nomination of Gen. George Casey to become the Army chief of staff, accusing Casey of "presiding over 'a failed policy' in Iraq, in which McCain said Iraqi forces were expected too quickly to assume growing responsibility for security matters there." 

The AP notes that the sponsors of the resolution condemning Bush's troop increase have to walk a tightrope -- between Senate Republicans who want to filibuster the measure and some Democrats who think it doesn't go far enough. 

In an interview, State of the Union responder Webb tells USA Today that "he favors cutting off funding for Iraq reconstruction in order to pay for Hurricane Katrina recovery instead...  Iraq and what he sees as the precarious state of the nation's economy and infrastructure are two of the topics he'll tackle in his speech."