This weekend brought a continuation of the GOP's slow-bleed of senators joining the reality-based community, with Judd Gregg and Lamar Alexander joining Dick Lugar, George Voinovich, John Warner, and Pete Domenici in calling for a change of course on the war.
"The parade is forming," said Alexander. "We hope [the president] will get out in front of it."
But before we order up the confetti and marching bands, it's important to remember that none of the aforementioned Republicans has said he will back legislation with a binding timetable for bringing the troops home. So while we welcome anyone who expresses second thoughts about continuing to follow the madness of the Bush/Cheney Iraq strategy, we need to be brutally clear that good words are no longer good enough. All the hand-wringing and expressions of deep concern in the world will not stop this war. These senators need to match their rhetoric with action and put their votes where their mouths are.
To paraphrase Matthew: By their votes, ye shall know them.
This is especially true given how far behind the curve the concerns being voiced by the GOP defectors actually are. Take Domenici who, in stepping away from the president on Thursday said, "We need a new strategy in Iraq." Or Alexander, who told the LA Times, "There needs to be a new strategy. Our policy in Iraq is drifting." Welcome to 2004, Senators. We don't just need "a new strategy;" we need to implement a concrete plan that brings the troops home. Our policy in Iraq isn't "drifting" -- that's what you do on a raft on a lazy summer day. Our policy in Iraq has careened wildly off course, struck an iceberg, and is sinking like a stone.
One could argue that a number of the GOP defectors, including Domenici and Alexander, are up for re-election, and are therefore looking for political cover -- voicing concerns about the war now to establish a paper trail that, come election time, would allow them to show they'd distanced themselves from the war all the way back in 2007.
But whatever their motivations, and however late they may be, their speaking out against Bush's Iraq policy can help prevent the tragic deaths of more American soldiers and the further erosion of America's security. So, as a prominent war supporter once said, "Bring 'em on!"