Well, thereâs the first high-profile response to the Great Push-Back
from the White House: the Republican Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee says the president has lost control of his Iraq policy
because he has failed to assert control over his vice president, his over-mighty cabinet secretaries, and their endless squabbles.
âThe president has to be the president,â Lugar told Tim Russert yesterday on Meet the Press
. âThat means the president over the vice president and over these secretaries. And Dr. Rice cannot carry that burden alone.â
Lugar is not a Bush loyalist. He was a lukewarm supporter of the war, a voice of the old-line Republican foreign policy establishment. But heâs also no John McCain, nor even a Chuck Hagel. Heâs not someone who looks for reasons to criticize the president.
Nor is Lugar the only one making this point.
Last week Bill Kristol noted
the foreign policy "disarray within his administration" and said the "administration [was] at war with itself."
Clearly, Kristol doesn't agree with Lugar about a lot, and even less with me -- less and less every day, it seems. And he'd like to see the conflict in DC won by different folks than I would. But the objective reality of disarray at the highest levels is impossible to miss or ignore.
Rumsfeld is on the retreat on every front in the administrationâs internecine battles. Powell lacks the clout to fully assert himself --- he remains fundamentally isolated. Cheney is a power unto himself. And Rice has largely abdicated the principal role of the National Security Advisor: to discipline and ride herd over competing institutional and ideological factions within the national security bureaucracy.
By default, our current policy in Iraq is drift.