White House Panic Mode on Iraq Is 'Bunk,' Snow Says

At the White House, officials are trying to put a brave face on the erosion of support in Congress for the Iraq War. Every Republican senator that breaks rank is another potential nail in the coffin for the administration's Iraq strategy.

Behind closed doors the White House is reportedly in panic mode. President Bush had hoped to stay the course in Iraq until mid-September, but events at home now threaten to force his hand.

ABC News has learned the Iraq progress report due out in the next week will state that none of the political benchmarks have been met by the Iraqi government.

"Events are spinning out of control for this White House," said former presidential adviser David Gergen. "George Bush's presidency I think is in desperate trouble."

White House press secretary Tony Snow denied on "Good Morning America" that the administration is in panic mode.

"That's bunk. That's flat wrong. I know it provides a sense of drama but it's also inaccurate," Snow said. "What we have is an administration that's trying its very best to try to cope with facts on the ground and move towards success."

Bush had earlier backed a congressional plan that if any of the benchmarks for the Iraqi government were not satisfactorily met by September, he would change course in Iraq.

Snow also disputed the claim that none of the benchmarks have been met.

"Here's what Americans will see. They won't won't see a report that says everything has been met at the outset because obviously it hasn't. There will be some benchmarks that were met…Some that we can't judge at this juncture, which I think is a pretty honest way of taking a look at the picture in Iraq, rather than spin it up into a drama where people are defecting and things are falling apart and the dam is bursting. This is war. This is not a political game," Snow said.

Snow did say, however, that the report would give a "snapshot of the beginning of the retooling of the mission in Iraq."

What Will McCain Do?

The White House is caught between military commanders who want more time and political allies who don't want the campaign liability.

Key senators who once supported the administration's policy in Iraq are now abandoning ship.

"You have 33 senators up for election next year and a number of them are vulnerable Republicans," said ABC News political analyst Cokie Roberts. "They are very well aware of the sour mood of the country."

Today all eyes are on Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., whose presidential campaign is floundering. Just back from Iraq, he has been one of the staunchest supporters of the war. If McCain wavers now, that would be bad news indeed for Bush.

"If he loses John McCain, it is like losing Tony Blair," Gergen said. "That would be catastrophic if John McCain says, 'You know, folks, this is unwinnable.'"

Former Democratic Congressman Lee Hamilton, one of the leaders of the Iraq Study Group, said he doesn't believe McCain will defect. Even so, the White House is under serious pressure to change course.

"I think the White House has their backs to the wall," Hamilton said. "They've got some very tough choices to make and the beginning of wisdom on Iraq is that there are no good options. There were no good options six months ago. There are worse options today."

Snow said that the administration is committed to helping the Iraqis create a democratic government that will extend U.S. interests in the Middle East.

"The war on terror is not going to go away because it's unpleasant," Snow said.

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