A Former Bushie On Iraq

Matthew Dowd speaks his mind:

1. In the public's mind, the Iraq War was a mistake, and continuing the status quo is simply continuing on with a mistake. As a result, most Americans now view the situation in Iraq as a "rearview" mirror issue -- meaning that the public believes it is time to focus on the process of ending our involvement and getting out quickly. They see American troops as targets in a place we aren't wanted, and they desire a plan which achieves responsible withdrawal in the quickest and safest way.

2. The public does not see withdrawal from Iraq as a signal America doesn't support the troops. In fact, the public sees removing the troops from harm's way and having them in a place where the mission is supported, welcomed and understood as the most proper way to support our troops.

That's a start. The question now is fundamentally how to recast the mission as a triage partition and get us out of there as swiftly and as responsibly as possible. What we should be debating is how we achieve this - not whether we can still "win" something - a unified, non-autocratic Iraq - that we have already lost.