Bush Wins Battle, Still Losing Iraq War
President George W. Bush might have won the battle in Washington, but he is still losing the war over Iraq.
Last week, Democrats in Congress gave into Bush’s demands by allowing a controversial bill to come up for a vote on both the Senate and House floors.
The bill provided close to an additional $100 billion for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan but removed a key provision requiring the president to start withdrawing troops from Iraq beginning on Oct. 1.
In the days that followed, the bill passed in both the Senate and the House by votes of 80-14 and 298-142, respectively, and Bush has indicated he is likely to sign it very soon.
Though the Congress will only provide funding through the end of September, it is clear that the Democrats have betrayed the constituents who voted them into power during the midterm elections with a clear mandate to end the war.
And while no Democrat will admit it, their inability to stand up to the president or steer the country in a different direction provides the president with the same rubber stamp the Republican-controlled Congress gave him during the previous six years.
It also ensures that without the threat of cutting off funding, which would be political poison for any Democrat, the president is likely to push on with his ‘stay the course’ strategy until he officially leaves office in January of 2009, despite his own military commander General David Petraeus stating, ‘There is no military solution to a problem like that in Iraq.’
Instead of standing up to Bush and forcing him to compromise his arrogant and reckless position on the war, the weak Democrats continue to avoid a direct confrontation while at the same time rejecting the voice of a majority of the American people, 63 percent of whom want the United States to set a timetable for withdrawal sometime in 2008, according to the latest CBS News/New York Times poll.
Democrats defended their position, stating the president had already vetoed a similar bill back on May 1, which included a provision requiring a timetable. The Democrats were unable to get the two-thirds majority needed to override his veto; three weeks later, they still don’t.
But if Democrats are unlikely to fight for what the American people want, Bush is likely to have his way with the Congress, and the 3,400-plus death toll since the war began will continue to rise.
Not even Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who once called the Iraq war ‘lost,’ fought the bill. Doing his best Bush impersonation, he described the war spending bill as ‘great progress.’
The power of the purse is the Democrats’ only leverage in attempting to get the president to change course in Iraq. By handing over essentially blank checks to the president, the Democrats are demanding no accountability from the commander-in-chief. Democrats should have forced Bush (‘The Decider’) to decide whether he would continue to veto funding for the troops because of the timetable requirement. This would have left Bush with the tough decision of either providing the troops with the money they need to fight the war along with a timetable for withdrawal or continuing to battle the Democrats until both sides reached a mutual compromise.
Instead, the Democrats gave in to the president, requiring no concession on his part. And with Bush warning of further casualties in summer, it is the military families who will be left to pay for the never ending, further escalating and increasingly violent war.
Certainly this was not the leadership many on the left pushed for during the elections.
The American people voted to give Democrats power in Congress because many