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Bush's Veto Threat is the True Act of Political Theatre

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Message A.J. Di Lorenzo
The Democrats have finally gotten it right. They have found a way to link their power of the purse to troop withdrawals in a way that can't get them accused of not "supporting the troops," a phrase that has been politicized to the point of ridicule. Yes, the Dems have found a way to defuse this political hand grenade and, if they continue to display a sense of political savvy as well as spine, can actually pull the pin and throw it back to the president.

Legislation has passed the House which conditions funding for the troop surge on a specific timetable for withdrawal. Genius. The House is prepared to support the troops both financially and politically. Yet, to no one's surprise, Bush continued to fall back on the same tired line, even as it failed to even remotely apply. In front of a handpicked group of military personnel, positioned for maximum cameral exposure, he proclaimed, "Democrats in the House, in an act of political theatre, voted to substitute their judgment for that of our military commanders on the ground in Iraq."

Political theatre is something Bush knows a thing or two about. In fact I think it may have been his major at Yale and we all recognize that his right hand man Karl Rove is the Laurence Olivier of the deceptive art. But the primary reason Bush called the legislation political theatre was because he knew it didn't have a chance of passing. Not because the Senate wouldn't approve it, no…the Senate version of the bill looks like it will pass as well, but rather because Bush himself will veto it.

According to Bush, the Congress has "abdicated its responsibility" to fund the President's mission and "Now it's time to send their money." Only, they actually did provide for the funding in the bill, just not a blank check. If anything, the Congress is finally stepping up and fulfilling its constitutional role as a representive of popular sentiment and a check on abuses of executive power. By not signing the bill Bush is the one failing the troops. He is willing not only to leave them unfunded but also in harms way indefinitely. That isn't political theatre, its political reality.

 

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A.J. Di Lorenzo is a policy researcher, debate coach, and graduate student of history in Chicago, Illinois.
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