Scrambling to send President Bush an emergency war spending bill he will sign, Democratic leaders have decided to drop their insistence on a timeline for withdrawing U.S. forces from Iraq.
The move -- which comes just days after senior Democrats insisted that White House officials should support non-binding timelines -- is a significant concession to the president and his Republican allies on Capitol Hill, who steadfastly have rejected any dates for bringing U.S. troops home.
But it reflects the simple mathematics of a closely divided Congress in which Democrats cannot muster veto-proof majorities for any proposal that would compel a pullout.
About that 'simple mathematics'; they may not have been able to override a veto, but ultimately they wouldn't have had to. Bush could either sign a war funding bill or defund his own damned war. As I said earlier, dems couldn't lose -- Bush would sign.
And if he didn't, even better.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has been catching some heat and seems to be moving away from the agreement. Think Progress reports, "'I'm not likely to vote for something that doesn't have a timetable or a goal,' she said, while still praising the deal as 'a recognition by the administration that a new direction was called for by the American people.'"
Frankly, I'm not sure how to take that. From what I understand, the agreement includes benchmarks for aid to the iraqi government -- if they don't reach certain goals, they don't get funding. But the agreement also allows Bush to unilaterally wave those benchmarks.
Considering Bush's determination to remain at war until the sun burns out, we can safely assume he'll wave them if they aren't met. There aren't any real benchmarks, because there aren't any unavoidable consequences. In other words, Bush concedes nothing.
Way to go, guys. Let me in on the next dem leadership poker game and I'll take you for all you're worth.
But there's still hope. Nothing is written down and, until pen hits paper, all agreements are tentative agreements. Pelosi's remark that she wouldn't sign anything without a timeline demonstrates that. This can fall through. If we pressure our congress critters, we can stop this.
I'm kind of lucky, I've got two people in office I can usually count on -- Sen. Russ Feingold and Rep. Tammy Baldwin. I'll fire off an email to both. The people you can count on still need the calls and emails and letters -- they demonstrate what their voters want. I also have Sen. Herb Kohl, who I pretty much can't count on. In any agreement like this, he's usually among the first to cave. I'll write him anyway.
The agreement puts off the funding fight until the budget deliberations in September. That's about four months from now. Here's what those four months mean:
Since the beginning of the war, 64,061 iraqi civilians have been killed. That works out to be about 1,307 per month. Since 2003, 3,698 US soldiers have died or about 75 per month. By agreeing to put off the debate until September, Democratic leaders -- speaking on your behalf -- agree to kill 5,229 iraqis and 302 US troops before we can even discuss ending the war. That's 5,531 deaths total that people have agreed are acceptable -- in your name -- before we even start to think about peace.
The Democratic Party needs to do something it very rarely does -- listen to the wiser voices in the party. "This is no time to back down. This fight to end the war isn't something that we can just put off or kick down the road..." Russ Feingold says of the agreement. "Why should this wait until September? First Americans had to put up with a Republican Congress that did nothing, and now we are faced with a Democratic Congress that is giving the President exactly what he wants -- continuing his failed policy and leaving our troops stuck in the middle of a civil war. Some strategy."
If Democrats don't listen to people like Feingold, the war will continue and it will get worse:
The Bush administration is quietly on track to nearly double the number of combat troops in Iraq this year, an analysis of Pentagon deployment orders showed Monday.
The little-noticed second surge, designed to reinforce U.S. troops in Iraq, is being executed by sending more combat brigades and extending tours of duty for troops already there.
The actions could boost the number of combat soldiers from 52,500 in early January to as many as 98,000 by the end of this year if the Pentagon overlaps arriving and departing combat brigades.
Does that sound like someone who's committed to recognizing reality and ending the war anytime soon? It looks to me as if he's absolutely, positively guaranteed to wave the benchmarks and keep stoking his damned war. Why didn't we believe him when he said, "We're not leaving [Iraq] so long as I'm the president."?
Bush will not end this war. Ever. Period. End of story.
The only way to end this madness and stop all the killing is the law. Take the freakin' war away from him. Stick by binding timelines and make ignoring them a crime.
If Bush doesn't sign off on those, we'll have made a liar of him (not that he needs any help) -- he'll end the war himself by withholding funding for it.