Meanwhile, the new American ambassador to Iraq is delivering a remarkably similar message to the one Congress is trying to send.
The bottom line is that Bush wants the deadline to be after January 2009 so it won't be his problem.
Even as Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney repeated their claim that a deadline for beginning a troop withdrawal would cede Iraq to America’s enemies, it has quietly been setting targets of its own for the government of Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki to show progress on long-delayed political accommodations.
In a telephone interview from Baghdad, the new American ambassador to Iraq, Ryan C. Crocker, said President Bush and Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates had bluntly told Mr. Maliki that failure to show results would undermine the administration’s efforts to buy him more time.
“There is Iraqi time and American time,” said Mr. Crocker. “And American time is running away from us, while Iraqi time is running at a slower place.”