President Bush, urging Congress to craft a war spending bill quickly, offered no clues Saturday about whether he'll compromise over linking U.S. support to stability in Iraq.
Bush and Congress have been talking about how to agree on a bill to finance combat operations through September. The president demands the money without strings attached, but Democrats say Bush eventually must accept some conditions on the U.S. commitment to the unpopular war.
Here's the thing -- Bush wants the war, Democrats not so much. This puts Bush at an extreme disadvantage. He can either sign what he gets or effectively defund his own war. If there's anyone here who needs to talk about compromise, it's Bush -- clearly neither of the options are acceptable to him and they're all he's got.
So why is Bush being such a pigheaded fool about this? "If we were to leave Iraq before the government can defend itself, there would be a security vacuum in the country," AP quotes Bush as saying. "Extremists from all factions could compete to fill that vacuum, causing sectarian killing to multiply on a horrific scale."
How do we know that's what will happen? That's what happened after we removed Saddam Hussein from power. Pretty much everyone other than the neocons predicted it and, as is usually the case, almost everyone but the neocons were right. With that track record, it's a little hard to take the Bushies seriously when they talk about Iraq. We're just keeping things at a slow boil here, we aren't actually getting anywhere. If things have to get worse before they get better, that's not really anyone's fault other than the people who started this damned war.
The next war funding fight may be a Hillary Clinton/Robert Byrd bill that allows the 2002 war authorization to expire on its fifth anniversary, Oct. 11, 2007. According to Reuters, when Clinton co-sponsored the bill, "White House spokesman Tony Fratto called Clinton's action 'reckless' and 'a political stunt.'"
Here's the thing, the White House that got us into this war -- which after four freakin' years still struggles to find a reason for existing -- doesn't get to talk about recklessness. There were no WMD, no ties to terrorism, no connection to 9/11 -- they recklessly rushed a nation into a war that later would be proven to have no real reason for being. And they recklessly seek to continue a war that serves no purpose. Hypocrisy is the Bush administration's only strong suit.
Bush can veto and veto and veto. It's an action that's never going to fund the war. He can't force Congress to do anything -- constitutionally or politically. There's a reason why Congress authorizes funding; to keep a runaway executive from following an idiotic path. Politically, Bush can't win. Polls show voters back Congress, not Bush. He has no political capital to spend here. He may not like it, but his back's against the wall.
Which makes all his tough talk empty. He's got nothin'. He's lost the political fight, he's lost the moral argument, and he's lost the people of the United States. He's in no position to take a stand and say , "No compromise!"
As things stand right now, he'll compromise or he'll get nothing. For the record, that last option is my personal favorite.
Technorati tags: politics; Congress; Democrats; Hillary Clinton; Robert Byrd; In the debate about funding the Iraq war, Bush is learning that you can't fight if you don't have anyplace left to stand