I'll leave it to better bloggers to explore, in depth, the ramifications of the Democrats' capitulation on war funding. But I will take the opportunity to suggest that we finally ditch the notion that any significant number of Republicans are ever going to "abandon" the president and turn against the war in any substantive way. Atrios and Yglesias have made this point with regard to the GOP's presidential contenders, none of whom -- Ron Paul aside -- are going to break with the current administration's pro-war line. Ever.
[I]t's worth noting that a significant faction of Democrats have persistently believed that the Bush administration was about to begin withdrawing from Iraq ever since 2004.One might add that even if the Republican contenders were inclined to go dove, they'd hold back from doing so simply because the Bush administration, weakened though it may be, still has plenty of power to meddle in the politics of the upcoming elections.
After three years of that forecast being perpetually wrong, it's now been displaced onto Mitt Romney or John McCain or whomever. Since this idea is so persistent, I think it bears mentioning that it's part of a pretty contradictory set of beliefs. The conventional wisdom, in essence, holds that running stridently against the war spells political doom for the Democrats. It also holds, however, that running stridently against the war is unnecessary because the Republicans will end the war anyway. Meanwhile, the Republicans are supposed to be doing this for political purposes.
These things can't, however, all be true. And, indeed, I think time has proven that the Republicans basically think the "doves are doomed" theory of politics is correct. They attribute their loss in 2006 to corruption and (hilariously) to "earmarks," attribute their wins in 2002 and 2004 to "toughness" and think that it always makes sense politically for the GOP to mark itself off as more militaristic and nationalistic than the opposition. My guess is that the persistent belief that Bush would end the war was driven by a fear that this theory is correct; it's a form of wishful thinking. But people should get over it. The war is, in fact, unpopular. The GOP is, in fact, determined to stay robustly to the Democrats' right on the war.