Wednesday, May 09, 2007

On the Commander in Pampers

Okay, so we can all appreciate the need to fund the troops in Iraq. Whether we begin redeployment now or re-surge and re-surge until my grandkids are heading to Baghdad, the troops who are currently in harm's way need support. President Bush himself has emphasized the urgency of this funding by pushing an April deadline (which turned out to be false) and by castigating Congress for unprecedented delays in passing a funding bill (which also turned out to be false). All other disagreements notwithstanding, pretty much the entire country is united behind the passage of a funding bill one way or another.

So why is President Bush himself standing between the troops and the funding they need?

Last week, he vetoed a bill that would provide all of the necessary funding on the condition that troop redeployment begin no later than October. Despite his enthusiastic use of signing statements in the past, Bush opted not to use one this time, depriving troops of immediate funding when he had the opportunity to do otherwise.

A week later, the troops are still waiting on funding, and Congress has crafted a compromise bill. This bill would continue to fund the war through the beginning of July, allocating $30 billion over the next two months under the generous assumption that Bush will be able to use that time to show progress. Some progress. Any progress. At the end of that period, Bush would be invited to report to Congress on a series of benchmarks and defend the need for further funding through September.

In essence, Congress is willing to put up $30 billion for two months to give Bush the chance to show that progress is being made in Iraq - which he swears is constantly ongoing - and to give them all a chance to negotiate further funding for the war - which we all recognize is necessary for as long as the war continues.

So why is Bush pulling out his veto pen again?
President Bush would veto the new Iraq spending bill being developed by House Democrats because it includes unacceptable language restricting funding, White House press secretary Tony Snow said Wednesday morning.

Bush could have funding for the troops right away. Congress has offered him $30 billion in funding on the sole condition that he do what he's been claiming he's been doing practically since the war began. The compromise provides $30 billion and the time to negotiate further funding on terms that satisfy all parties. He could have the money he's asked for.

But he won't. Because the money's not enough. Because he wants a blank check.

As our troops continue to suffer, as they continue to lack armor and ammo and equipment, as they continue to live in substandard conditions, Bush has the power to fix it. He has been offered a compromise - and a generous one, at that, considering the massive public support for the original bill - to make it better. But he would rather have his tantrum, at the expense of the troops, at the expense of the war effort, because he has to have things his way. And he doesn't care who has to suffer until that happens.

Way to go, Commander Guy.

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