It's official! The press have declared September "The Month that Means Something."
"Many of my Republican colleagues have been promised they will get a straight story on the surge by September," said Sen. Gordon Smith (R-Ore.). "I won't be the only Republican, or one of two Republicans, demanding a change in our disposition of troops in Iraq at that point. That is very clear to me."
"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."
Not even the most optimistic military officials think Baghdad will be quiet by then, but they think they might be able to discern long-term trends.
Prediction: In September, the "debate" will be, "Do the long-term trends show enough progress to 'stay the course,' or even call for yet more troops to really 'nail it down' in Iraq?
There'll be a little shuffling in the numbers, probably, as Congress heads home for the summer and wavering Republicans decide between coming back to Washington and saying, "No!" like grown-ups, or "spending more time with their families."
All fine and dandy from an electoral perspective. It should mean a raft of new Democratic seats in Congress. But September's not going to change anything about the occupation. And even if it did, remember:
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice urged the Democratic-controlled Congress not to interfere in the conduct of the Iraq war today and suggested President George W. Bush would defy troop withdrawal legislation.
Republicans don't curb their dogs.