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Another Poll Finds Bush Sinking

"It was the first time he had expressed any criticism of Ms. Sheehan, the mother of a soldier killed in Iraq, who has protested at his Texas ranch during his vacation and has inspired antiwar vigils. . . .

"Ms. Sheehan, who has demanded to meet again with Mr. Bush, has not advocated a withdrawal of American forces in the Middle East; troops are stationed in Kuwait and Qatar, as well as Iraq."

Peter Wallsten writes in the Los Angeles Times that Bush's "more confrontational language Tuesday marked a renewed effort by White House officials to discredit arguments being made by protesters, who are calling on the president to avoid further bloodshed by pulling out of Iraq.

"Bush said Tuesday that 'immediate withdrawal' would be a mistake. He also sought to portray his Iraq critics as critics of the broader effort against terrorism, which remains more popular than the Iraq policy. Bush tried to paint protesters as opponents of engagement in the entire region, even though Sheehan and others have focused their criticisms primarily on Iraq. Bush's remarks appeared to buttress Sheehan critics who have assailed the mother's assertion in at least one interview this month that the invasion of Afghanistan to remove the Taliban after Sept. 11 was wrong."

Kenneth R. Bazinet writes in the New York Daily News: "A political source close to Bush's damage-control advisers complained Sheehan's protest has been 'taken over by professional opponents of the President' but acknowledged that Bush has been wounded politically by her vigil. As a result, he added, Bush had no choice but to ratchet up his rhetoric."

Sam Coates writes in The Washington Post: "Bush's quickly scheduled appearance came against a backdrop of antiwar protests that have sprung up during his three-day visit to Utah and Idaho, two politically Republican states. The president's sojourn from Texas suggested the protests threaten to bracket his appearances in ways that could complicate the White House's ability to argue for the Iraq policy and maintain support for it."

Sheehan to Return

Cindy Sheehan writes in "I'm coming back to Crawford for my son. As long as the president, who sent him to die in a senseless war, is in Crawford, that is where I belong. I came here two and a half weeks ago for one reason, to try and see the president and get an answer to a very simple question: What is the noble cause that he says my son died for?"

On the Defensive

Dana Milbank writes in The Washington Post: "You knew it was a bad day for the White House when even Fox News was piling on President Bush's counselor, Dan Bartlett."

The Challenge

Linda Feldmann writes in the Christian Science Monitor: "President Bush faces a monumental task: He must project hope about prospects for building a stable and democratic Iraq, analysts say, while at the same time appearing connected to reality, as US casualties mount in both Iraq and Afghanistan."

Bush on Terror

While Bush often argues that Iraq is a part of the war on terror, his critics charge that Iraq only became a haven for terrorists after the U.S. invasion.

Bush went on a curious riff on this topic yesterday, while answering a question about Iraqi politics in the wake of a draft constitution.

"We had a policy that just said, let the dictator stay there, don't worry about it. And as a result of dictatorship, and as a result of tyranny, resentment, hopelessness began to develop in that part of the world, which became the -- gave the terrorists capacity to recruit. We just cannot tolerate the status quo. We're at war. And so this is a hopeful moment."

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