He's reacting to this story from the Boston Globe:
WASHINGTON -- Iraq Study Group member Leon E. Panetta believed that his panel's unanimous bipartisan recommendations about a new way forward in Iraq would give President Bush the political cover needed for a dramatic policy shift. So the former chief of staff to President Clinton has watched with alarm as Bush this week signaled that he may reject suggestions about diplomacy and withdrawing most US troops from Iraq by 2008.So you've got to ask yourself what, in Bush's many many public utterances on this matter, would convince you that he wanted America to leave Iraq?
Bush has even criticized the idea that the group was providing a "graceful exit" from the war -- which is what Panetta and other panel members figured Bush most wanted.
This is the contradiction at the heart of the whole ISG project - they got a bunch of Wise Old Men to think up a political solution that would be palatable to them if they were in power. But they aren't in power, and Bush isn't one of them. Bush is, always was, and always will be a radical - in intent if not in practice. Not a particularly bright one, mind you, but nobody said that was a requirement.
We've been given copious evidence that the Iraq War was going to happen no matter what, and the most plausible explanation so far amounts to "because we can." Bush and company wanted to upend the table and show everyone that America was kicking ass and taking names. That's still the dream, and Bush hasn't given up on it, though most of the dreamers have given up on him.
What's bizarre is that America was as strong as it's ever going to get in 2002 - after Afghanistan, pre-Iraq. America actually was kicking ass and taking names, and there was no immediate reason to believe that would end, short of a disaster. But the neoconservatives believed the "unipolar moment" needed to be seized. Even though America was and remains by far the most powerful player in the international scene, the neoconservatives acted like America was one of the Polands of the world - surrounded by more powerful countries trying to strangle its potential.
Consider the repetitive incantation that America needs to stay in Iraq or risk "looking weak to the enemy." You can, if you're as dumb as Jim Baker or Leon Panetta, take that as a rhetorical flourish or partisan mudslinging. Or you can accept the reality that Bush believes it. Bush believes it because its true: America will look weak after leaving Baghdad. And because the whole point of the project was to make America look invincible, the only way the project is confirmed as a total disaster is when it ends in an American retreat.
If he could stay past 2008, Bush would keep the war going past 2008 - until victory, as he's said multiple times. This isn't about the GOP, or even about him anymore. He believes if the war ends, America will have lost it's chance for a "place in the sun", as a man once said.
America needs to lose this war, and lose it quickly.