The Note: Behind the Locked Double Doors

The Wall Street Journal's David Rogers Notes that last week's maneuvering in the House "upset many Republicans, and seems to have strengthened Mr. Murtha rather than isolate and embarrass him." Rogers writes that the biggest loser may be Cheney, "who has sought unsuccessfully to keep Congress out of the prisoner-detention debate by claiming it a presidential prerogative." Prior to the Thanksgiving recess, House Speaker Dennis Hastert blocked a vote and final negotiations on the shape of the $453 billion appropriations bill. But those "delaying tactics won't be feasible after lawmakers return from the Thanksgiving recess, because the defense bill must be enacted before Christmas." Rogers has one Senate Republican aide, who watched the House debate with "dismay," saying, "If the House Republicans want to make Jack Murtha the face of the Democratic Party, then Republicans will really be trounced next year."

Maybe all that explains the presidential dial-back. Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.

The Los Angeles Times' Meyer and Wallsten on President Bush and Secretary Rumsfeld's measured pushback on Sunday of congressional critics of Iraq war policy: LINK

"The comments by Bush and Rumsfeld reflected a marked shift in tone and strategy from the last 10 days, in which they and Vice President Dick Cheney have ripped into war critics as 'irresponsible' and 'reprehensible' for accusing the White House of misusing prewar intelligence to justify the invasion, and also for calling for a withdrawal."

The Washington Post's Baker and Brown also have Bush disagreeing with Murtha but trying to "tone down" the "high-pitched debate on Iraq" by saying "people should feel comfortable expressing their opinions about Iraq." LINK

The Washington Post duo Note that the "tenor of Bush's remarks contrasted sharply with the White House message since the President left for Asia a week ago."

"Bush hits call for pullout," blares the front page of the Washington Times. LINK

"The 2006 campaign year is shaping up as the first to feature both parties splintered and edgy over the increasingly unpopular Iraq war," writes USA Today's Jill Lawrence. LINK

The Washington Times' Rowan Scarborough has a senior Pentagon official saying that military commanders are worried about "what may be a growing movement inside the Democratic Party to advocate troop withdrawal from Iraq." LINK

(The story does not mention Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel's call for the United States to "begin drawing down forces in Iraq next year").

"Speaking on the Sunday morning public affairs programs, Mr. Rumsfeld appeared to want to deliver the final word on the recent uproar sparked by a call for an expedited withdrawal of American troops issued by a Democratic congressman who has long been influential on military matters on both sides of the partisan divide," writes the New York Times' Hauser in her wrap of the Sunday morning talk. LINK

The editorial board of the Nation's Newspaper says a focus on the future of Iraq is an appropriate debate, but "withdrawal from Iraq now, as Murtha wants, would be a wrong and dangerous course." LINK

Rep. Murtha responds on the op-ed page that his plan "motivates the Iraqis to take control, sooner rather than later." LINK

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