National Journal‘s Chuck Todd on the Republicans’ problems:
A number of Republicans are quietly shaking their heads at the White House’s inability to make any domestic political progress on Iraq. Forget policy for a minute; the political ramifications of the president’s decision to ignore the Iraq Study Group may be viewed as the single biggest political mistake of the ’08 cycle.
The biggest complaint I hear from Republicans who may find themselves in competitive ’08 races is that Democrats don’t own a piece of the Iraq problem. And that was the beauty (politically speaking) of the ISG. There were a few things that didn’t thrill some Democrats, but they were generally willing to sign on to most of the bipartisan group’s findings. Had Bush bought in, the political pressure would have been on the Democrats to buy in. And the moment Iraq becomes an American problem rather than a Republican problem, the GOP would have a more level playing field.
With the White House wholly rejecting the “get the GOP out of Iraq” card, the president managed to do something many thought was nearly impossible: He strengthened the GOP’s ties to the war.
We’re going see some remarkable contortions from GOP candidates, particularly the presidential contenders, over the next 12 months. McCain, who for years has been cozying up to the Bushies and demanding a more aggressive line on Iraq, is now taking shots at Cheney. It’s a game of “hot potato.” Of course, Hillary Clinton has the same problem, even if her party has a little (but not a lot) more cover on this issue.
The Iraq War is vastly unpopular right now and is only going to be more so in 2008, by which time we’ll have been in Iraq for 5 years with about 4,000 U.S. dead and 30,000 wounded. But will there be any seriously antiwar major-party candidates beyond Ron Paul and maybe Dennis Kucinich?