Tony Blair earned himself a theme song this morning.

No promises, no demands…

We are strong.

No one can tell us we're wrong.

Searching our hearts for so long. Both of us knowing…

Love is a battlefield.

The quotes that Atrios has pulled from Blair's This Week appearance read like something out of "excuses r us."  My favorite quote:

Well, you see, you've got to ask, why is it that we have the problem now? And we have the problem now because people are giving us this problem.

Um…yeah. Has anyone else noticed that proximity to George Bush has an adverse influence on Blair's ability to reason and communicate? 

But here, ladies and gentleman, is where the interesting reading comes into play.  The reaction within the Republican party Wurlitzer apparatus versus the "more moderate" (read:  disgusted with Bush's craptastic unilateral order-fests) wing has been a sight to behold.  Witness:

A document that many in Washington had hoped would pave the way for a bipartisan compromise on Iraq instead drew sharp condemnation from the right, with hawks saying it was a wasted effort that advocated a shameful American retreat.

The Wall Street Journal’s editorial page described the report as a “strategic muddle,” Richard Perle called it “absurd,” Rush Limbaugh labeled it “stupid,” and The New York Post portrayed the leaders of the group, former Secretary of State James A. Baker III and Lee H. Hamilton, a former Democratic member of Congress, as “surrender monkeys.”

Republican moderates clung to the report, mindful of the drubbing the party received in last month’s midterm elections largely because of Iraq. They said they hoped President Bush would adopt the group’s principal recommendations and begin the process of disengagement from the long and costly war. But White House officials who conducted a preliminary review of the report said they had concluded that many of the proposals were impractical or unrealistic.

The divisions could make it more difficult for Republicans to coalesce on national security policy and avoid a bitter intraparty fight going into the 2008 campaign.

Now, I don't want to get anyone's hopes up unnecessarily or anything, because the winds of political change will be blowing at a pretty stiff pace the next few years as these folks amp up toward a Presidential context in 2008, but at the moment? The Wulitzer is not only down, it's been kicked to the curb by several factions of conservatives who are more used to following marching orders than thinking for themselves. This is about to get very ugly — because the situation in Iraq is not going to get better overnight, and these folks aren't exactly shy about sharing their feelings (read: staking a claim to controlling the messaging apparatus).

And so long as the hawks are driving the messaging apparatus, at the behest of George Bush, the President who would not admit a mistake, this crass attempt to wrest power from the true believer crazies and neocons "debate" is going to keep on raging — because, as everyone knows, the personal opportunism required to obtain a Presidential nod can drive folks to public declarations.  To wit:

Notably fueling the skepticism has been Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who has raised pointed questions about the Baker-Hamilton panel's unwillingness to prescribe more troops, as McCain has urged, and its embrace of a regional conference with Syria and Iran.

"It's sort of hard to suddenly say everyone agrees Baker is the way to go when the leading Republican candidate for '08 is saying no," said William Kristol, editor of the Weekly Standard.

Although it is clear that many Republicans regard the Iraq Study Group's report as a possible exit strategy from a war that they worry could drag the party down in 2008, such plans are colliding with clear anger from neoconservatives, who have been the most ardent supporters of the Bush administration since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

"It's preposterous, period," said Kenneth R. Weinstein, chief executive of the conservative-leaning Hudson Institute, about the proposal for a new dialogue with Iran and Syria. "Talking to them is not going to bring anything but a perception of American weakness."

"The report is a monumental disappointment, for all the hype," said Richard Perle, a former Reagan-administration defense official who strongly supported the Iraq invasion. "The recommendations are either wrong or of no consequence. There is no magic bullet, but in their desire to find something, they found the wrong things."

Many of the conservatives have long distrusted Baker, viewing him as a figure of amoral, dealmaking diplomacy who unduly pressured Israel and coddled Syria when he was secretary of state.

Oh yeah. Anyone else think this is going to get awfully good over the next few months? Because it seems to me that there may be a battle going on for the hearts and minds of the Republican party…and we all know how well that hearts and minds effort has been going in Iraq. The thought that the neocons could manage this one better is laughable.

Someone pass me the popcorn…