Gen. George Casey, Bush's nominee for Army chief of staff, has his confirmation hearing, in which he's expected to take heavy bipartisan fire over his performance in Iraq.
Yesterday in First Read, we reported that "the Administration has failed to adequately supply [Sen. John McCain] with information critical to Bush's new strategy." We further reported that in a joint statement with Sen. Carl Levin (D), McCain suggested that the Administration "does not intend to attach meaningful consequences for the Iraqis' continuing to fail to meet their commitments." Well, if McCain's criticism of the Administration sounded too good to be true, it was.
After questioning McCain about it yesterday, he made it explicitly clear that he does not feel that way, NBC's Ken Strickland reports. He later sought out reporters who questioned him about the joint statement to inform them that he never signed off on the press release written as a "Levin and McCain statement." Levin's office reissued the statement, taking McCain's name off of it. A Levin spokesperson says McCain's staffer signed off on the joint statement, but didn't run it by McCain first. Oops.
Intraparty squabbling over Iraq, "in some cases, has seen Republicans accusing fellow Republicans of undercutting the American effort in Iraq, a charge previously reserved for Democrats," The Politico says. GOP lawmakers who oppose the troop increase, "several of whom spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of retribution from party leaders or the White House, are stunned by the hostility expressed by fellow Republicans. They are particularly concerned that anyone who raises questions or challenges the Bush plan will be branded a defeatist who wants to see America lose the war."
In fact, one GOP lawmaker under heavy fire is Sen. John Warner, the New York Times says. "What some Republicans have said in recent days about Mr. Warner has been particularly harsh. 'It is clearly not an act of leadership,' said Senator Jim DeMint of South Carolina… 'To offer nonbinding resolutions which encourage our enemies and undermine our allies and deflate the morale of our troops is, to me, the worst of all possible worlds,' said Senator John Cornyn, Republican of Texas."
Even as House Democrats plot how to talk about Iraq with Bush when he addresses them at their retreat on Saturday, Roll Call reports that Senate Republicans, who'll be gathering tomorrow, "likely will sidestep the issue." "Instead, Senate Republicans plan to focus on producing a domestic-heavy agenda, message and game plan for the next two years that positions them to reclaim the Senate majority in 2008."
The Boston Globe reports on a new audit showing that Iraq's ministries are "struggling to perform basic functions, such as drafting budgets and hiring contractors, and too often depend on their American advisers. That in turn has led to the Iraqi government's failure to spend $13 billion -- more than a third of its annual budget -- in 2006, a situation that could further destabilize the country."
MoveOn released this statement yesterday on Obama's plan to withdraw all US troops from Iraq by March 2008: "Senator Obama's legislation reflects the consensus of most Americans, the Iraq Study Group, military and diplomatic experts… MoveOn.org applauds Senator Obama for his Iraq proposal." Also, MoveOn today is sponsoring a "Virtual March on Washington," in which its members will flood Senate offices with phone calls and emails opposing Bush's troop increase. In addition, MoveOn members -- wearing "Iraq Escalation: Wrong Way" stickers -- will hand deliver petitions to individual Senate offices.