DOMENICI’S CHANGE OF HEART….Time will tell if Sen. Pete Domenici (R-N.M.) will have the courage to actually vote for a change in Iraq war policy. He offered some mildly encouraging comments yesterday, but we don’t yet know whether the senator, who is up for re-election next year, will put his vote where his rhetoric is.

In announcing his desire for “a new strategy,” however, Domenici responded to questions about why he finally gave up on Bush’s status quo.

Speaking to reporters on a conference call from Albuquerque, Mr. Domenici said his change of heart came after conversations with the families of New Mexico soldiers killed in Iraq who asked him to do more to save those still serving there.

“I heard nothing like that a couple of years ago,” he said. “I think that’s the result of this war dragging on almost indefinitely.”

That it? That’s the reason? Domenici has cast his Iraq votes the way the president has told him to for five years; he’s bashed Democratic proposals; and he’s equated withdrawal timelines with “encouraging terrorists,” but after talking with grieving families, then he started questioning the wisdom of the policy?

Domenici is on the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, where he presumably has heard an update or two in recent years about conditions in Iraq. One might even assume that he’s seen some kind of report or heard some kind of briefing about U.S. fatalities and our national security interests as they relate to the war.

But he refused to consider a change in the status quo until he actually talked about the conflict with fallen troops’ families? What has he been doing since 2003? Did he not realize there might be some New Mexico families who wanted a change, say, last year?

Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.