The Gop's Glum View

by The New Republic Staff, The New Republic Staff | August 1, 2007

Along with several other reporters today I attended a background lunch (held at 101 Constitution Avenue, naturally) with a prominent Republican senator. It doesn't seem like much fun to be in his shoes right now. He could barely mount a case for a Republican comeback in the short term, and even fretted about the possibility of Democratic numbers in the Senate growing to the point where Harry Reid can easily break filibusters. Particularly telling was his response when someone asked which issues he thought the GOP could ride back into power. He first cited the symbolic power of "earmark transparency"--which is popular enough, sure, but ain't the stuff of an electoral wave--and then glumly conceded that, "[u]nfortunately, there's not a clear vision about what that path forward will look like." On Iraq, this senator said he expects that, come September and the Petraeus-Crocker report, the White House will announce "a transition to a new approach." He thinks that will involve a non-trivial drawdown of troops, and a returned emphasis to training Iraqi forces, though he wasn't too clear beyond that. He also said such a shift would head off any possible collapse in congressional GOP support for the war. Finally, for all you Joe Lieberman junkies out there, this senator says he's not hearing buzz in the GOP caucus about Lieberman possibly joining their ranks or voting for Mitch McConnell as majority leader, so you can breathe easy (for now!). --Michael Crowley

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