Ahh Spring time! It is the time of year for new love, flowers, finals, and of course yearly budgetary insanity of all kinds in the US Congress. Normally the fight over money is so much more mundane than this year, but this year just makes for good TV.
Typically when budgets are in question the issue is the domestic direction of national spending…how much money does New Orleans get, what Congressmen’s district gets the most farm subsidies, etc. are the matters of debate. This was the case during the Clinton years when government shutdown, but this year the donnybrook is about, as are most things nowadays, the war in Iraq.
The House Democrats sponsored a bill that, among other things, would allocate 124.2 billion dollars to the war, but also stipulated that if the Iraqi government does not meet some Presidential standards by October US troop withdrawals could start that month. The bill also included a nonbinding “goal” of completing troop withdrawal by April 1, 2008 with only non-combat forces remaining. In the late hours Wednesday (4/25/07) this bill narrowly passed the House (218-208), and is expected to pass the Senate Thursday (4/26/07).
Two Republicans voted for the bill and eight Democrats voted against it. I thought that was a bit off, and got on the phone with several of my political guru friends who also thought that many Democrats crossing party lines was weird, some of who are very liberal. Within in thirty minutes one of them got back to me and here is the salient part of his email:
“It didn't dawn on me until I noticed that Lewis of Georgia was one of them. Lewis of Georgia is an African-American who doesn't like the war at all. Lynn Woolsey represents part of Marin County, California, and is also very liberal. Kucinich just introduced articles of impeachment against Dick Cheney. Barbara Lee is in this category too.
My point is that on first impression you would assume that those who voted with the Republicans were "blue dog Democrats" and some of them may have been. The fact is that a fair number were attempting to kill ANY appropriations bill and thus would have ended the war immediately. These would have still been "no" votes regardless of what the bill contained.”
Bush has stated that he will vote the bill, and as the House does not have the two-thirds majority to over-ride the veto, the bill is nothing more than a very loud statement to the President that Congress does not like the war.
I am a Republican and I hate how “my party” has been hijacked by religious extremists and corporate giants in some form of unholy political alliance. I also detest George Bush, Dick Chaney, and Karl Rove for they way they got into the White House and for getting America into this war.
With all that being said I have to admit this time Bush is making the correct call. Even if the withdrawal date is non-binding, thinking about getting out of Iraq next April is far too soon. The insurgents are not stupid people. The moment troop levels begin to drop attacks will increase and Iraq (Baghdad) will become a true war zone. That is why I begrudgingly agree with the Presidents decision to veto. Unfortunately America needs to be in Iraq for the long haul.