I must say that I wasn’t initially convinced that Speaker Pelosi would be able to do as good a job as we needed her (or any Speaker of the House at this point in time) to do. Not necessarily as much of her skills, but more because of the political climate and so many hot button issues. Oh yeah, and the “herd of cats” analogy that we have seen and heard about the Democrats in Congress....
But damn, she (and the Democrats in general) were dealt a pretty bad hand, even with the electoral landslide in November and she has played it to near perfection. From the legislation of the “First 100 hours”, to the latest vote on Iraq funding/withdrawal date, she is really doing a job that I would never EVER want, and one that deserves some major props.
On this latest bill, yes, it isn’t the best bill – in fact it leaves much to be desired. But what is the alternative? There is now way that, despite all of our yelling and screaming, our troops will be withdrawn or redeployed from Iraq immediately. Which sucks, but it is the reality. The Democrats can only do so much with a pretty much nonexistent majority in the Senate and a little-room-for-error majority in the House. They also, as Major Danby pointed out last night have conflicting issues and constituents to deal with.
Further, as I said a few weeks back, I think the Democrats are being as smart as possible here, despite the fact that I want the troops out yesterday. And as I said earlier, this is not a perfect bill – not even close. But what it does accomplish is a few things:
It sets a deadline for getting the majority of troops out. Yes, it is nonbinding, and yes, even if Bush were to not veto it (he will veto it), he would probably issue a signing statement about the parts he doesn’t like. But that isn’t the point. The American public wants the troops out. And they are starting to get pissed at the Democrats for not doing enough to get them out - even though it is relatively unreasonable to expect more in two months. NOTE: I am not saying that this is fair, but that is reality.
It eliminates the “Democrats aren’t supporting the troops” crap. Of course, this will still be repeated by Bush and the talking meatsticks on the right. But they will say this anyway. Fact is, the Democrats are (despite whether we say they are funding the occupation and continuing the occupation or not) not leaving the troops “on the battlefield without bullets”, NO MATTER WHAT BUSH SAYS. This, to the republicans, should be a very reasonable bill.
It makes the Democrats look good and Bush/the republicans look bad in the “headlines battle”. I expect to hear a number of “headlines don’t mean shit when our troops are still dying” comments. And yes, that is true. But what is the alternative at this point? The republicans aren’t getting us out of Iraq. And they never will. But just take a look at the headlines on the main pages of CNN, Yahoo and MSNBC. Hell, even the Fox News headline says “Bush Vows to Veto Bill to Withdraw U.S. Troops From Iraq by Fall 2008”.
Who do you think that the American people are going to side with here?
If Bush vetoes this bill, there is no funding. He will, in essence be the one that is stranding the troops without funding or an exit strategy. And every republican that whines about this will be doing the same. I wouldn’t think that the Democrats are going to draft another bill that is more palatable to the republicans and Bush. This is the funding bill. Elections have consequences, right?
The Democrats passed an imperfect bill. But they passed a bill that will enable them to look reasonable and look strong. It is another step in the right direction – not the giant leap that we all want, but ANOTHER step. And next week there will be another step. And then another.
We want more – but as Mick Jagger once said, “You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, you get what you need”.
Right now, this is what we need. Nice job, madame Speaker.