OMG, THIS IS SO OBVIOUS, AND EVERYBODY KNOWS IT. CASE CLOSED.
LOOK AT THIS QUOTE: "Bush Supporters are....to refocus...on...who wins in November."
ALL OF THOSE WORDS ARE IN THERE.
May 13, 2004
Bush Supporters Are Split on How to Pursue Iraq Plan
By DAVID E. SANGER and RICHARD W. STEVENSON
WASHINGTON, May 12 — President Bush said on Wednesday that the beheading of an American working in Iraq was part of an effort to "shake our confidence," but he insisted that the United States would "complete our mission," despite what his aides freely concede is a major loss of credibility in the Arab world.
Speaking briefly on the South Lawn of the White House, Mr. Bush appeared to try to use the beheading of Nicholas Berg, a young Pennsylvania man seeking work rebuilding Iraq, to refocus attention on the nature of the enemy the United States faces rather than on the continuing investigation into the abuses of Iraqi prisoners in American custody.
But some of Mr. Bush's aides and many of his outside advisers said in interviews that conservatives who had backed the war were now badly fractured on how the administration should pursue its Iraq strategy, and they fear that the combination of the prisoner abuse scandal and the inability of American forces to put down the insurgency are taking a toll on the Bush re-election race.
"You are seeing several camps develop," said William Kristol, the editor of the conservative Weekly Standard. "There are unapologetic hawks," a category he puts himself in; "we are critical of the president for failures of execution but still think it is winnable. There are loyalists, who stick to the Republican talking point that it is going well. There are supporters of the war who now have second thoughts, and there is a category of conservatives who are saying `be tough, but then get out.' "
Mr. Bush made it clear Wednesday that he had no intention of getting out, and said Mr. Berg's death was a reminder of why the United States is still fighting in Iraq. Those killers said in statements released with digital images of the beheading that they were acting in retaliation for the treatment of Iraqis at Abu Ghraib prison. But White House officials on Wednesday dismissed those comments as excuses offered by killers who are seeking justifications for executing Americans.
"Their intention is to shake our will, their intention is to shake our confidence," Mr. Bush said, declining to take any questions. "We will complete our mission. We will complete our task."
To back up their assertion that the administration has not been blown off course, officials went to some lengths on Wednesday to demonstrate that their effort to create a new, democratic government was proceeding according to plan.
One senior administration official, calling reporters from Baghdad, said that both the abuse of prisoners and the escalating violence had not set back plans to form a transitional government that would take power on June 30. He described in detail the makeup of that government — a president, two vice presidents, a prime minister and more than two dozen ministers — and said that if there was reluctance to move ahead with American and United Nations plans, "I don't encounter it in my discussions."
The optimistic line from the White House contrasted sharply with the assessment of the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, Gen. Richard B. Myers, who told a Senate panel on Wednesday that he expected an increase in violence between now and the handover of sovereignty.
"Between now and the 30th of June, we know it's going to get worse," General Myers said.
It was a measure of the troubles Mr. Bush is running into within his own party that Senator Pete V. Domenici, a New Mexico Republican who usually sides with the administration, expressed his frustration to Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld on Wednesday that he could find no clear vision in the administration's Iraq strategy.
"I am very worried about how prepared the Iraqis are to take over this responsibility and, secondly, what we have done to prepare ourselves and them to work together to make this work," Mr. Domenici told Mr. Rumsfeld at a budget hearing. "I can envision that this situation will not work, and that we won't have an organizational structure that will do anything other than have Americans fighting and us supplying those fighters with more and more money."
The unease among conservatives has also been given voice in recent days by a number of influential commentators. George F. Will wrote in The Washington Post on Tuesday of a series of "failures" by the administration for which no one was held accountable, including post-war planning that was "botched." On Monday, the syndicated columnist Robert D. Novak wrote that there was a clear consensus among Republicans in Congress, Republican fund-raisers, contributors and others he had canvassed that Mr. Rumsfeld had to resign.
But The Wall Street Journal's editorial page on Wednesday appeared to better capture the mood of many Republicans in the House, especially after the images of the beheading became public. The Journal wrote that the American public was primarily focused on "the far larger question of American purpose" and said the real challenge for the White House is "not who wins in November but who wins in Iraq."
Representative Roy Blunt of Missouri, the Republican majority whip, said the televised images of the beheading had a palpable effect both on public opinion and the mood among lawmakers after days in which the focus had been on embarrassment and anger over prisoner abuse.
"If you had your thumb on the pulse of America, that pulse beat changed when Americans heard about the beheading of Nick Berg," Mr. Blunt said in an interview. "It jolted everybody's memory again about why we were there in Iraq and who we're dealing with."
But more moderate Republicans said the images of the prisoners being abused would continue to influence public opinion about the war. "We're in an enormous reconsideration cycle in this country," said Representative Jim Leach of Iowa, a Republican who opposed the invasion of Iraq.
Even as they denounced the beheading of Mr. Berg as barbaric, Democrats signaled that they would not stop criticizing the administration for its handling of Iraq.