PROFILES IN COURAGE. Matt and Kevin Drum disagree a bit about the plausibility of the scenario outlined to Mike Crowley by Mystery Republican Senator X:

On Iraq, this senator said he expects that, come September and the Petraeus-Crocker report, the White House will announce "a transition to a new approach." He thinks that will involve a non-trivial drawdown of troops, and a returned emphasis to training Iraqi forces, though he wasn't too clear beyond that. He also said such a shift would head off any possible collapse in congressional GOP support for the war.

It's true both, as Matt says, that this troop drawdown is unlikely and, as Kevin says, that even if it were true it would be pretty incoherent and unserious of the GOP to sign off on the change in approach.

The central point to take away from Crowley's interview is -- to be uncharitable about it -- just simply that Republicans won't under any conceivable circumstances rise up and oppose the president's war policy next month, notwithstanding the inexplicably persistent press hype of a coming "mutiny." Petraeus can issue a happy-face report and advocate sustaining the surge, or he can put forth a bogus and incoherent "transition to a new approach" (one that still involves sustaining the occupation indefinitely), and the Republicans will go along with it just as they have gone along with the president's war policy for the last four years. The usual "thoughtful" GOP suspects -- John Warner, Dick Lugar, et al. -- will, as always, disappoint those expecting a real break with the president. I would love to be proven wrong, but past precedent and the general thrust of this senator's comments to Crowley don't give me any reason to expect it. It's worth keeping in mind that the leading GOP presidential hopefuls moved instantly this week from a policy of saying nothing substantive about Iraq at all to shouting to the heavens about O'Hanlon and Pollack's op-ed and how it proves that victory is imminent. There genuinely does not appear to be an inclination among significant GOP leaders to challenge the president's war policy significantly.

Indeed, these few short paraphrased comments uttered to Crowley offer a perfect encapsulation of Republicans' current state of intellectual and strategic listlessness and bankruptcy. Beyond reconfirming his party's inclination to help Bush kick the war can down the road some more, what did our mystery senator point to as a key issue for his party? "Earmark transparency."

--Sam Rosenfeld