Christopher Hayes writes at the Nation:
Say it: escalation. More and more that's what the geniuses in Washington have come up with as a way of ending the war in Iraq. Instead of calling it an escalation of the war, they are using the military term of art, "surge." Ok, fine. Surge, escalation, "reset", call it what you will. The fact is that the American people voted in November to end the war in Iraq, and the White House has demonstrated that, kabuki-style consultations to the contrary, it just doesn't care.
And the New York Times reports today on the projected outcome of the "kabuki":
With Congress out of session, Mr. Bush has sought to reassert his relevance and show yet again that he can chart his own course against all prevailing winds, whether they be unfavorable election returns, a record-low standing in the polls or the public prescriptions of Washington wise men.
He has at least for now put the Iraq war debate on terms with which he is said to be more comfortable, if only because they are not the terms imposed on him by Democrats and the study group.
That stance could be short-lived. Democrats warn — and some Republicans privately say they fear — that Mr. Bush is in for a dousing of cold water when he returns from his ranch in Crawford, Tex., in the new year to face a new, Democratic-controlled Congress ready to try out its muscle. His recent moves have already caused a fair degree of crankiness among his newly empowered governing partners.
“I’ve seen very few tea leaves in the mix that would give you any sense of hope or confidence that he is getting it so far,” said Senator Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts, who supports the study group’s advice that the administration seek help from Iran and Syria in Iraq. “The bottom line is this president can’t afford not to change course. The time is up.”
Of course, Bush is facing investigations in the Senate starting in early January. Leon Panetta is quoted as saying, “At some point you move into a different phase: the harsh realities come home.”
One Republican close to the White House said that moment was fast approaching.
“Jan. 4 is a new day,” this Republican said of the official shift of power in Congress, “and they still think they can control the calendar and the timing. But that’s no longer at their discretion.”
In an interview last week, Senator Carl Levin, the Michigan Democrat who will become chairman of the Armed Services Committee, said he was planning three hearings on Iraq in January. Speaking of the president, Mr. Levin said, “He’s got to now come to Congress with a policy he’s got to adopt, and it’s controlled by people who are pressing for a change in direction in Iraq.”
Steve Benen reports at Washington Monthly that Bush is already "lawyering up."