We heard three very different positions on Iraq from the Republicans this weekend.
Let me start with the grown-up GOP position expressed by Sen. Lindsey Graham on Late Edition
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: Well, I’ve been to Iraq twice, and the one thing I constantly hear is that we have enough troops. But I really don’t buy that. And I think the security situation in Iraq is going to get worse before it gets better. There’s a rhyme or reason to what’s happening here. They’re attacking police stations. They’re attacking people who want to join the army. They’re trying to kill people who want to be part of a democratic government. The terrorists are trying to drive people out. They’re trying to overcome this move to democracy, so it’s going to be tough in the short term. I don’t believe that we’re playing politics here with military actions. I do believe that the political atmosphere in the United States is a reality, and we’re just going to have to suffer through it. I want the Iraqi people to know, come November, regardless of who the president is going to be, that we’re going to stand with you. That when Prime Minister Allawi comes here and speaks to the Congress, I wish Democrats and Republicans both would tell him, no matter what it takes, if we need to have more, we will send more. We’ve got to win in Iraq.
BLITZER: Are you suggesting, Senator Graham, the U.S. simply does not have enough forces on the ground in Iraq right now to get the job done?
GRAHAM: I think we’re going to need more people over time.
On the other extreme is the cut and run position expressed by Robert Novak on Capital Gang and repeated in this article.
The closest thing to what Bush seems to be saying was this statement from John Thune on Meet The Press
I think, clearly, we’ve got to–there’s a strategy in place. Obviously, it’s to, you know, create an interim government, move to free elections, ratify a constitution, train an Iraqi army. Those steps are being taken. And, you know, this is going to be a tough job and nobody said otherwise… This is not a time to cut and run. This is a time to show resolve and the international community is responding. I mean, there is more support building, I believe, for what’s happening there… Everybody I talked to is totally supportive of what we’re doing there. I mean, they believe that they believe in the mission, they believe we’re making progress. This is important work that we’re about… I think the president’s made it very clear. Set up an interim government, ratify a constitution, hold free elections, train an Iraqi army. I mean, there are steps being taken. There is a strategy in place and we need to continue to pursue that strategy and make sure we are successful in prevailing.
Also there was Senator Jon Kyl on Face The Nation
He began by pointing out to the American people that this would be a very long and very difficult war and that we were going to have to have the confidence and the perseverance to see it through. I find it shocking that some people are surprised by the fact that it is a long and difficult conflict. So that should not be a surprise. What’s important is that you have a leader who recognizes that there are difficulties but who is committed to prevailing, who has a firm idea of what he wants to accomplish, confidence in his commanders in the field, and who doesn’t send mixed messages to the troops or to our allies, most importantly to our enemies.
Novak says Bush plans to cut and run, Thune and Kyl say stay on course, and only Graham says we need to do more to secure Iraq. Talk about mixed messages!