Sen. Gordon Smith of Oregon, one of two Senate Republicans to oppose the latest spending bill for the conflict, said the war "is a problem because it's defining our party to the American people, and the American people have lost faith in this cause."
"Many Republican colleagues are simply waiting until September," he said, citing the deadline Bush gave to Army Gen. David Petraeus for a progress report on the war. Unless there is a dramatic turnabout by then, Smith said, the party's near-unanimity is almost certain to fracture.
But now, from over at TPM Election Central, comes this:
The Obey measure -- which would fund the war through July but make further funding contingent on progress in Iraq -- had stirred optimism among some Dem House staffers because it would allow Dems to keep standing up to the White House on Iraq while ducking Bush's charges that Dems weren't funding the troops.
Well, now Senate leader Harry Reid's spokesman has confirmed it: The plan is a non-starter in the Senate.
In an update, TPM adds:
It seems that the Senate hasn't ruled out this approach in general; just this specific one floated by Obey. [Reid spokesman Jim] Manley: "This is one of a number of options. There hasn’t been a decision on how to proceed."
So maybe this is like the infamous "Dems Back Down on Timetable" headline from last week, that ended up being mainly vaporware. But it still makes me nervous.
As Smith's slip (plus the fact that Mr. Thirty-two Percent is now Mr. Twenty-eight Percent) shows, Reid's hand should be awfully strong right about now.
What's the deal?