COMMENTS: Bush Loses Lugar

A single senator making a lonely floor speech for C-SPAN cameras set the news agenda. All three networks led with the Story of the Day. Richard Lugar, the veteran Republican from Indiana and former Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, spelled out why the United States must withdraw its military from Iraq: "Our course in Iraq has lost contact with our vital national security interests in the Middle East and beyond."

ABC and NBC covered the Lugar speech from Capitol Hill. CBS assigned it to Jim Axelrod at the White House. He reported that President George Bush had requested his fellow Republicans "not to call for troop withdrawals before September." Once Lugar did, George Voinovich of Ohio followed suit. Now "the White House is going to keep a very close eye on Sen John Warner." The former Chairman of the Armed Services Committee had this to say of Lugar's speech: "I hail what he did." In the halls of the Capitol, ABC's Jake Tapper (subscription required) speculated that it might "serve as a tipping point for his fellow Republicans to abandon the President on the war" and NBC's Chip Reid said Lugar's speech "could be a political turning point." On the other hand, Reid offered the White House response: "Republicans are free to disagree but the troop surge will continue."

ABC, which had Bob Woodruff cover the humanitarian crisis of two million Iraqi refugees from the Middle East last week, turned to a solitary contrary anecdote to close its newscast. David Muir introduced us to Khalid Abood, a military interpreter for the Marine Corps in Fallujah. A wanted man in Iraq for his collaboration with US occupation forces, his USMC officer, Capt Zachary Ischol, lobbied for political asylum for Abood, including testimony on his behalf before Congress. After six months, the State Department relented, and Ischol met his former comrade at New York City's JFK Airport. First on the agenda is a visit to the Statue of Liberty.


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