On the other big political issue of the week – Iraq – Karl Rove and company are steamed that Tuesday's meeting between President Bush and House Republican moderates became public knowledge, the Hill's Jonathan Kaplan reports. LINK
But no reading of the riot act will change underlying concerns about the war, and the list of fed-up Republicans is only growing. LINK
Perhaps it's a coincidence that the president is now talking for the first time about accepting "benchmarks" for the Iraqi government as part of a war-funding bill. (Bush aides say there's no change in the president's position, but that's what they always say.) The White House knows that yesterday's war-funding vote could be the last time the GOP sticks together on Iraq, presidential veto threats aside.
But the story with the biggest implications yesterday can be told with a single eye-popping number: 171. That's the number of House members who voted to cut off funding for the war, keeping money in place only to bring home virtually all US troops within 90 days. It was all about giving liberals a vote on ending the war, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D- Md.) parted ways, but let that sink in: Two Republicans joined 169 Democrats - more than 70 percent of the caucus – in voting to CUT OFF FUNDING FOR THE WAR. Looks like those fears of being painted as anti- defense are dissipating fast.