The net is abuzz today about Robert Novak's column
suggesting that a reelected Bush administration would quickly pull American troops out of Iraq regardless of the status of the country at the moment or what the consequences of the withdrawal might be.
So what does it mean?
Has President Bush decided that we have to pull up stakes, opting for a far more immediate retreat from Iraq than the one he continually accuses John Kerry of supporting?
My take is that there's no possibility and really no point in trying to answer that question. Whether or not John Kerry has a clear plan for what to do in Iraq, it's quite clear that President Bush doesn't have any. The plan at the moment is simply to keep the troops there in order to keep from having to admit that the whole enterprise has gone south.
(The young and very serious John Kerry once asked "How do you ask a man to be the last man to die in Vietnam? How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake?" A less anguished George W. Bush has decided that a soldier or two a day is a reasonable price to pay to avoid admitting a mistake.)
Given the identity of the reporter, I think this leak is simply an effort to give options to potential Bush supporters.
For those with their hands over their eyes, there's the president's slogans on the hustings. For those who see that what the president is saying makes no sense but yet really prefer not to vote for John Kerry, there's this leak which tells them with a wink that the president realizes his policy has failed and will pull the plug very soon.
The campaign will leave to individual voters which message suits their needs.