Six Months

SIX MONTHS….No more Friedmans after September? That’s what Jonathan Weisman and Thomas Ricks suggest in the Washington Post today:

“September is the key,” said Rep. James P. Moran Jr. (D-Va.), a member of the House Appropriations subcommittee that funds defense. “If we don’t see a light at the end of the tunnel, September is going to be a very bleak month for this administration.”

….House Minority Leader John A. Boehner (R-Ohio), who has taken a hard line in Bush’s favor, said Sunday, “By the time we get to September, October, members are going to want to know how well this is working, and if it isn’t, what’s Plan B.”

….House Democratic leaders are coming together around legislation that would fund the war through September but would withhold more than half of those funds until July, when Bush would have to report on the Iraqi government’s progress toward benchmarks such as quelling sectarian violence, disarming militias and sharing oil revenue equitably. Congress would then have to vote in late July to release the remaining funds.

When September rolls around Gen. David Petraeus is almost certain to report that things are tough but progress is being made on the ground. And he’ll have metrics of some kind to back him up. What else is he going to do, after all? You can almost write his script right now.

But political progress? There are virtually no positive signs right now, and after 18 months of stalling it’s unlikely that 18 more weeks are going to make a difference. What’s more, I’m inclined to think that there are at least a handful of moderate Republicans who are genuinely serious about abandoning Bush this time around. This time, it looks like six months might really mean six months.