Wednesday, May 09, 2007

they still don't get it

In today's edition of me bashing the local-DC press corps, I start off with a willfully blind headline: "As presidency nears end, Bush reaches out to Democrats"

Let's get things straight. Bush is reaching out to conservative Democrats like Jim Matheson, not because he is interested in compromising his position, but because he is hoping Matheson and others continue to compromise theirs. Bush's idea of compromise is to pretend like he is giving something up, but issue a signing statement saying he is pocket vetoing that provision. Or giving up something rhetorically, but not actually. The man thinks compromise is caving in.

So example, Bush vetoed the last Iraq supplemental, which included withdrawal time tables (which he supported in 1999 for Kosovo) and presidential sign offs on impossible things like a new oil law. After failing to override the veto, Democratic leaders drafted a "short leash" bill that purportedly drops the time tables, but keeps the sign offs, and requires multiple votes to keep the funding going.

In response, Bush said he would veto that too. And then someone leaked this:
Military officials now say it will be several more months before they can determine whether the "surge" in troops authorized by Bush is helping quell sectarian and other violence. In announcing new troop deployments, top commanders said the increased troop levels may need to last until next spring -- a timetable that could clash with congressional sentiment in favor of a quicker troop withdrawal.

Prominent bloggers have all pointed out this is definitive proof that September won't be the magic pony month we all wish it would be. That is, Republicans won't join the Democratic plan to end the war in droves. Maybe a few will peal off, but not the 70+ needed to override the President's veto in the House or 17+ needed in the Senate.

I tend to believe that two (or three?) things are at play: Bush is desperate to keep the helicopters leaving the Baghdad embassy image on another president's watch and Congressional Republicans don't want Iraq to be an issue in 2008 like it was in 2006, but don't want to be too disloyal to the man that got them there.

I like the idea of the short leash because it forces repeated votes by "moderate" Republicans in favor of an unending war. But I don't know a practical solution to how we end the war before 2008. What happens after the Congress approves the short leash, and Bush vetos it?

Some time in the fall, the Pentagon's money is going to run out. Assuming no funding bill gets passed by Congress that Bush likes, that means the Pentagon will have to start trimming some things and shifting money around. Some think that will force the troops to come home. I think it will just make things worse, more cuts in armor and health care while more troops get sent over there for more time.

Democratic leaders understand Bush much better than Blue Dogs do apparently. There is no compromising with this man.

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