The Conservative Democrat | Dan Boren

(By Linda Davidson -- The Washington Post)
Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Rep. Dan Boren (Okla.) woke up yesterday morning as one of the few Democrats in Congress who hadn't completely abandoned President Bush on the war. He ended the day the same way.

Gen. David H. Petraeus, he said, "talked about the successes obviously in Anbar province, and that was key. We knew that was coming. We know that they're asking for some small number of troops" to be withdrawn. "That's not a surprise."

What did surprise Boren, who participated in the hearing as a member of the House Armed Services Committee, was "going into 2008 and not having any kind of real timeline. I know we don't want to tip our hats to the enemies, but at least provide us with some light at the end of the tunnel. We've been at this for so long, we need something that we can at least hold on to. We can't do this forever."

Having said that, Boren added, his doubts about the Democratic demand for immediate withdrawal continue. "I think they've provided enough information for me to say that . . . while I'd rather us been successful and were coming home, I don't think we should immediately withdraw. I agree with the general on that point."

But waiting until July to withdraw 30,000 U.S. troops -- "That's a long time," Boren said. "Basically what he was saying, if you boil it all down, is we're going to do what we've been doing for the last year. You might have a little reduction here, a little different wrinkle there. But overall the president is basically going to run the clock out, and this is going to be the problem of the next commander in chief."

While yesterday's report was highly anticipated, it told Boren little he didn't already know. "I probably thought that we were going to have a little more information about change in direction," he said. "We've gone around in circles, and we're at the same point where we started in this process since I've been elected" in 2004.

Still, it was a good day for the Republicans and Bush, Boren said. "If we buy enough time, as the general is saying, and there can be a real political solution, I'm keeping an open mind. I'm going to give it a chance, frankly, until the next president.

"I may disagree with the strategy, and I do, with the surge," he said, recalling his reaction in January when Bush decided to send additional forces to Iraq. "But we're past that point. It's time to support our troops and what they're doing. Once the decision has been made to go forward, then we've all got to get behind it."

-- Shailagh Murray and Jonathan Weisman

© 2007 The Washington Post Company