On May 1, 2003, President George W. Bush swaggered across the deck of the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Lincoln and announced, “[M]y fellow Americans: Major combat operations in Iraq have ended. In the battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed.”At that time, 139 U.S. Troops had died and 542 had been wounded in Iraq. Now, after four years of what the Bush Administration must consider “minor” combat operations, more than 3400 U.S. troops have been killed and an additional 24,000-plus wounded.
When Mr. Bush made his premature victory speech, there were less than 5000 insurgents in Iraq, and American Forces were being attacked an average of eight times a day. Now, after four years of Bush-style mismanagement and incompetence in Iraq, there are more than 70,000 insurgents, and American Troops are being attacked around 150 times each day (The Brookings Institute, 5/10/07).
The Bush Administration’s fifty billion dollar cakewalk-war has turned into a half-trillion dollar boondoggle with no end in sight. Or is there?
On the fourth anniversary of Bush’s Top Gun photo-op, Congress sent him a supplemental appropriations bill to fund the war in Iraq. This was the seventh time that Congress had sent an Iraq War supplemental appropriations bill to the President, but this time there was a difference. This time the new Democratic-controlled Congress included provisions in the bill that mandated standards for training, equipping, and resting combat troops (the kind of things a Commander-in-Chief ought to do without being told). Most importantly, the bill set a timeline for withdrawal of U.S. combat forces from Iraq. That is what the majority of Americans demanded in the 2006 elections, and that is what they continue to demand.
In defiance of the wishes of the American people, Mr. Bush vetoed the bill and insisted that Congress get back to work and send him a bill he could sign. (Translation: Send an appropriations bill that hands me another hundred billion dollars to continue my war--with no timeline for withdrawal of troops, no benchmarks for the Iraqi government, no Congressional oversight, and no accountability to anyone about anything). In short, “Give me the money and shut up.”
As usual, the Mainstream Media has done a fine job of spinning the story, so it sounds like there is something terribly wrong with Congress for sending a bill to the President that doesn’t give him everything he wants.
“Various media outlets have characterized the House and Senate bills as efforts to ‘stymie’ Bush's request for war funding. An ABC News.com headline repeated Bush's assertion that Democrats are ‘undercutting [the] troops’; NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams suggested the Iraq spending bills would leave them ‘high and dry in the middle of the fight.’”-- Media Matters for America, 4/17/07
None of that is true, but:
“This all gives rise to a bigger question: Why is much of the media's coverage of this focused on the Democratic dilemma the veto creates, while so little of it is focussed on the fact that Republicans, too, are in a bind, are trapped between public opinion and their unyielding President, and are going to have to make concessions towards a compromise?”-- Greg Sargent, The Horse’s Mouth (blog), 5/3/07
The Washington Post (5/3/07) went as far as reporting that Democrats were “offering the first major concession: an agreement to drop their demand for a timeline to bring troops home from Iraq.”
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) quickly denied the story; and she doesn’t sound like someone who is ready give up the fight to end Mr. Bush’s War and bring our troops home:
“We made our position clear. [Bush] made his position clear. Now it is time for us to try to work together. But make no mistake: Democrats are committed to ending this war.”--after a meeting with President Bush, 5/2/07
· “[On June 5, 1999], then-Governor Bush said, about President Clinton, ‘I think it’s important for the president to lay out a timetable as to how long they will be involved and when they would be withdrawn.’ Despite his past statements, President Bush refuses to apply the same standard to his own activities.”--5/1/07
· “The President has long said he supports benchmarks; what he fails to accept is accountability for failing to meet those benchmarks. Benchmarks without consequences and enforcement are meaningless, a blank check.”--5/10/07
· “The President said that we are substituting, Congress is substituting our judgment for the judgment of commanders in the field, 6,000 miles away. Wrong again, Mr. President. …We are substituting the judgment of this Congress for your failed judgment. The American people have lost faith in the President’s conduct of the war. They have said they want accountability and a new direction — this bill gives them both.”-- on the House floor, 5/2/07
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), who co-sponsored a bill to begin a troop withdrawal within 120 days, sounds just as determined: