A few weeks ago, I suggested that the Lugar "rupture" might not be a full-blown revolt at all. As I said then, I suspect the hand of [Secretary of Defense] Robert Gates in all this.

Recent reporting has hinted at Gates's inclination toward a revised role for American forces in Iraq, angling toward a reduced US presence in the near term. Read between the lines of this New York Times story here for some of that.

An aside: it is worth keeping in mind that Gates was a member of the Baker-Hamilton Commission.

You may re-read my 25 June summary of Lugar's speech here. As I said then, Lugar's analysis does not ignore the reasons why we are where we are. Moreover, his plan acknowledged that an irresponsible "redeployment" will prove disastrous to us and the world.

But his statement also acknowledged one undeniable, irrefutable, irresistible fact of life: No American President can fight (much less win) a war without the support of the American people. We can argue all day long about whether the people and politicians were right to abandon the President on this war--but those debates are completely irrelevant to the reality that the people have soured on Iraq, and retreat, at this point, is merely a matter of when and how.

My other question from that previous post, however, is actually the most crucial to our future:

If this signals that the President is willing to consider a "thoughtful Plan B," are the Democrats willing to forego political advantage to save the country?