Bush Firm on Iraq as Senators' Tempers Flare

Democrat, Republican get hot on air, and White House rejects GOPers' Iraq plan.

July 15, 2007 — -- Frustration in Congress over Iraq boiled over on the air Sunday.

On NBC's "Meet The Press," Sen. Jim Webb, D-Va., challenged Sen. Lindsay Graham, R-S.C.: "You haven't been to Iraq."

"I've been there seven times," Graham shot back.

"You go see the dog and pony shows," Webb said.

The exchange grew more heated from there, with both men claiming at one point to speak for the troops.

"Somebody needs to speak up for them rather than simply defending what this president's been doing," said Webb.

"When they reenlist in the highest numbers anywhere else in the military, they're speaking," Graham replied. "The soldiers are speaking. Let 'em win. They want to win."

On ABC News' "This Week," there were no fireworks -- but maybe even more worrying for President Bush, two of the Senate's most respected Republicans talked about bringing troops home.

"What we're looking for now are plans that are much more realistic, with the use of our troops in Iraq and the Middle East and worldwide," said Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Ind.

The proposal by Lugar and Sen. John Warner, R-Va., calls for the president to start planning for a redeployment of troops. It also calls for Congress to revisit the authority it gave President Bush to go to war.

"If the current mission were put up for a vote today, it wouldn't pass, would it?" asked "This Week's" George Stephanopolous.

"I doubt very much that it would," replied Warner.

It's a stab at consensus by two senior statesmen -- an attempt to nudge, rather than force, the president to change course.

Today, the White House rejected the Warner-Lugar proposal, urging lawmakers to wait for a September progress report before judging the success of its Iraq strategy.

"The time to begin that [evaluation] process is September," Bush National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley said on "This Week." "And the opening shot really ought to be to heard from the commanders on the ground."

Democrats don't like the Warner-Lugar plan, either. They say anything less than a firm deadline for withdrawal is unacceptable. But Democrats still don't have the votes to pass any of their withdrawal measures.