The Truth Will Set You Free

James Poulos:

... instead of fearing a revolt that will never come, Republicans running for president should do Ron Paul one better and carry out the smartest preemptive attack ever conceived -- pledging as a central part of their campaigns to abandon Bush on Iraq, immigration, and big government. Within the party, only Iraq will be a pill that goes down sideways, at least at first. But watch. Repudiating the president is so firmly grounded in fact and prudence that it will be contagious. What the candidates have already gotten away with, in the way of tepid criticism of tactics in Iraq, has gone over like a dream. Mitt Romney's more adventurous knocks against Bush's leadership have gone unanswered. This is because everyone knows they are accurate. They want more. They want to stop living a public lie. Instead of the national reign of fear predicted by the president's leftist critics, it is the political right that suffers silently in dread. This is a needless shame and waste, and the clock is ticking. Repudiating Bush everywhere he has erred will be something like going to confession. The great wave of relief to come will power the energy needed to turn from defending the indefensible by awkward half-measures to promoting in full measure true conservative government.

No Republican candidate who hopes to win the nomination can join the Dick Lugars of the world in hinting at phased withdrawal from Iraq, not so long as the base still believes in victory as strongly as it does. But one could imagine a leading contender at least taking a line suggested by this Rich Lowry post - defending the current military strategy in Iraq and holding out hope for victory, that is, while simultaneously attacking not only the President's handling of the war (as McCain has done explicitly, and others have implicitly) but his unconservative ideological premises as well. Yes to Petraeus, in other words, but no to Bush. It's not the full Poulos, but it's something.