A Warner seeking re-election and in need of Northern Virginia swing voters, if I may be cynical, would likely have been increasingly critical of the war. But now that he's freed from political calculations, I wouldn't be shocked to see him adopt a Bushian "forget-the-polls, what-matters-is-the-judgment-of-history" pose and start saying we need to tough it out in Iraq.This is an odd way to look at it. It's true Virginia is trending Democratic, but why would being freed from political calculations necessarily make Warner more pro-war?
Isn't it at least as possible that Warner's ties to the GOP -- including the fundraisers and political machinery necessary for any reelection campaign -- caused him to hold back in his criticizing the war? Surely a 28-year Republican senator faced political pressures from the right, too, not just the left.
It's worth considering that Warner may actually believe the war is going badly. And doesn't being freed from political considerations mean, you know, being freed from political considerations?
P.S. ... There is another way I can imagine Warner's announcement helping Bush, and that is if it makes it easier for Bush and the media to write off Warner's war criticism. Instead of "respected elder statesman John Warner," he now becomes "soon-to-retire-from-politics John Warner," which could lessen the impact of criticisms going forward.
P.P.S. ... Still a very, very hard seat for Republicans to hang onto in 2008, though. Who's going to beat Mark Warner?