Monday, April 30, 2007



Bush said he's ready to sit down and "work with" Democrats to come up with a bill to fund the continued occupation of Iraq. The Democrats would like to fund a safe, orderly end to that occupation and Bush, if we can judge from his history, is thinking in terms of them joining him, Cheney, Lieberman and other Regime dead-enders in pushing for a blank check to wage endless war. Those two twains ain't meetin' and tomorrow's Washington Post makes it clear that a good many Republican members of Congress are unwilling to commit political hara-kiri to bolster Bush's fragile ego in defense of his failed strategies and indefensible policies.

Yesterday George Will told George Stephanopoulos on ABC's This Week, when asked if Petraeus' September deadline for reasonable political goals in Iraq remain unmet-- as it nearly certain-- that congressional Republicans "do not want to have, as they had in 2006,another election on Iraq. ...It took 30, 40 years for the Republican Party to get out from under Herbert Hoover. People would say, 'Are you going to vote for Nixon in '60?' 'No, I don't like Hoover.' The Depression haunted the Republican Party. This could be a foreign policy equivalent of the Depression, forfeiting the Republican advantage they've had since the '68 convention of the Democratic Party and the nomination of [George] McGovern. The advantage Republicans have had on national security matters may be forfeited."

The rubber stamp Republican leadership, according to the Post "is brushing aside White House opposition" to agree with Democrats that "a second war spending bill should begin with benchmarks of success for the Iraqi government, and possible consequences if those benchmarks are not met." Bush has vowed to promptly veto the bill he gets tomorrow, on the anniversary of his idiotic "Mission Accomplished" photo op.
But GOP leaders did not take the benchmark issue off the table. House Minority Whip Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) suggested last week that although Republicans could not accept linking benchmarks to troop withdrawals, they could tie them to $5.7 billion in nonmilitary assistance for the Iraqi government.

Blunt spokeswoman Burson Snyder said yesterday that it would be "premature" to rule out such a proposal, in spite of Rice's comments. "We haven't even begun substantive conversations with the Democratic leadership, so how can we start ruling in or out certain provisions?" she said.

House Minority Leader John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) took a similar tack. Boehner "believes members and the administration can and will discuss benchmarks as a way of measuring progress and holding the Iraqi government accountable, and that's where members need to start," said his spokesman Kevin Smith. He added that "tying benchmarks to withdrawal dates or deadlines are a non-starter," but he did not rule out consequences for Iraqi government inaction.

Rep. Bob Inglis (R-S.C.) has suggested that benchmarks be tied to U.S. troop positions within Iraq. If the benchmarks are not met, troops would remain in the country but would be removed from combat zones.

Appearing on several Sunday talk shows, Rice said any compromise on benchmarks would not give the Iraqi government and U.S. troops the flexibility they need. Her comments left Democratic leaders convinced that the White House is not ready to negotiate on a war funding bill that includes policy changes for Iraq. Instead, Democrats will have to negotiate with congressional Republicans, hoping a measure with broad, bipartisan support would force Bush to the table.

How much longer will it be before no one is left defending Bush's catastrophic Middle east agenda but Holy Joe Lieberman?



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