Just two weeks before Gen. David Petraeus delivers his much-anticipated report on the "surge" and progress in Iraq, Democrats are considering a game plan that will cede military issues to the administration and instead focus on the political failures in the troubled Middle East nation.
"What will happen is that we will focus more on the political disasters in Iraq," said a Hill Democratic leadership aide. "We're not going to take on Petraeus. We'd just look like partisan defeatists."
The shift is a smart one, said other aides, because it provides a rich target that the administration can do very little to change, and it helps to suggest that the president's efforts in Iraq have been a failure without criticizing the military or troops.
A new Government Accountability Office report plays up the political angle, giving the administration failing grades for accomplishing major political changes and democratization in Iraq. An administration official today said that the White House is aware of the Democrats' new attack plan but hadn't yet decided how to counter it.