"White House Debate Rises on Iraq Pullback" -- David Sanger in The New York Times, July 9, 2007:
White House officials fear that the last pillars of political support among Senate Republicans for President Bushâ€™s Iraq strategy are collapsing around them, according to several administration officials and outsiders they are consulting. They say that inside the administration, debate is intensifying over whether Mr. Bush should try to prevent more defections by announcing his intention to begin a gradual withdrawal of American troops from the high-casualty neighborhoods of Baghdad and other cities.
Mr. Bush and his aides once thought they could wait to begin those discussions until after Sept. 15, when the top field commander and the new American ambassador to Baghdad are scheduled to report on the effectiveness of the troop increase that the president announced in January. But suddenly, some of Mr. Bushâ€™s aides acknowledge, it appears that forces are combining against him just as the Senate prepares this week to begin what promises to be a contentious debate on the warâ€™s future and financing.
â€œWhen you count up the votes that weâ€™ve lost and the votes weâ€™re likely to lose over the next few weeks, it looks pretty grim,â€ said one senior official, who, like others involved in the discussions, would not speak on the record about internal White House deliberations.
That conclusion was echoed in interviews over the past few days by administration officials in the Pentagon, State Department and White House, as well as by outsiders who have been consulted about what the administration should do next. â€œSept. 15 now looks like an end point for the debate, not a starting point,â€ the official said. â€œLots of people are concluding that the president has got to get out ahead of this train.â€