The White House appealed Tuesday for more patience on the war in Iraq as Democrats warned that time was running out and a prominent Republican declared that President Bush's strategy was not working.
In a floor speech Monday, Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Ind., said the U.S. should reduce the military's role in Iraq and called on Bush to press other diplomatic and economic initiatives instead. Because of Lugar's position as the top Republican on the Foreign Relations Committee, his speech was a blow to the administration as it tries to shore up sagging political support for the unpopular war.
White House spokesman Tony Snow said Lugar was a thoughtful man and that his remarks came as no surprise.
"We've known that he's had reservations about the policy for some time," Snow said Tuesday.
But the spokesman later added: "We hope that members of the House and Senate will give the Baghdad security plan a chance to unfold."
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid called Lugar's speech "brilliant" and "courageous" and said it would later be noted in the history books as a turning point in the war.
"But that will depend on whether more Republicans take the stand that Sen. Lugar took," added Reid, D-Nev.
Many Republican senators joined Democrats in a 64-35 vote to allow debate on the bill, which calls for a 'guest worker' programme, tighter border security and - most controversially - a path to citizenship for 11-12 million illegal immigrants in the US.[...]
Despite Tuesday's vote, passage is not assured. The Senate is expected to vote on the bill itself this week. In the US House of Representatives, many Republicans have concerns about the measure.[...]
Hours before the vote, Bush called the bill a historic opportunity to keep the US a place where people can realize 'dreams and aspirations' through hard work.
'This bill goes to the heart of our values,' he said. 'We have proven that our nation is capable of assimilating people. And I'm confident that we can continue to be a nation that assimilates.'
Tuesday's procedural vote opened the way for senators to consider amendments, many of them designed to tighten the rules. One proposal would require all adult illegal immigrants in the US return home within two years to get permanent visas.
And Paul Hamilton's coverage on Cheney's latest antics (here, here, and here) is complimented by Sally Quinn's Washington Post op-ed titled A GOP Plan To Oust Cheney. Quinn floats some possible replacements for the Veep office, and includes Fred Thompson among those worthy of consideration.
Thompson would give the Republicans a platform for running for the presidency -- and the president a way out of Iraq without looking like he's backing down. Bush would be left in better shape on the war and be able to concentrate on AIDS and the environment in hopes of salvaging his legacy.
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