On Monday a Washington Post headline read: “GOP’s Base Helps Keep Unity on Iraq.” By Thursday, following President Bush’s veto of a Democratic war funding bill, the long-suppressed GOP divide on the war was spilling out into the open.

Most Republicans still oppose setting a timetable for withdrawal and only four in the Congress voted for the Democratic proposal. But now they are split on the question of “benchmarks”–whether to require Iraqis to meet certain political goals in order to keep receiving US military support.

“Obviously, the president would prefer a straight funding bill with no benchmarks, no conditions, no reports,” said Senator Susan Collins of Maine told the Los Angeles Times. “Many of us, on both sides of the aisle, don’t see that as viable.”

Still other Republican supporters of the surge, like Senator Lindsey Graham, are trying to have it both ways. According to the Washington Post, Graham “said he would support adding benchmarks, but with no repercussions should Iraqis fall short.”

Doesn’t that defeat the purpose of having benchmarks in the first place? Without consequences what’s the incentive for the militia-plagued, secterian-driven Iraqi government to hammer out a compromise? And while we’re at it, isn’t it time for US politicians to stop blaming Iraqis for the mess in Iraq? After all, it was the Bush Administration’s war of choice that made a bad situation even worse.