10 April 2007

Democratic Congress Should Stand Up to Bush

Speculation on last night's Countdown with Keith Olbermann centered on the reason for Carl Levin's signaling that the Democrats in Congress will cave on Iraq funding: that the Democrats don't want to "own" the Iraq issue, they prefer to give Bush what he wants and let him have full responsibility for the consequences of the continued occupation.

I think this is cowardly, even if it is good politics (which I concede it may be). Too many lives are at stake. Bush's arrogant stance, effectively saying that Congress' only responsibility is to agree with him and pony up the money, just can't be countenanced. (Perino as much as said exactly this yesterday). Bush wants Democrats in Congress to come to the White House so he can lecture them and harangue them into capitulating. They should say, no, thank you, Mr. President. We will meet with you to negotiate a resolution of this issue, not to be dictated to. If you cannot move towards accommodating the clear will of the American people, we have nothing to talk about. The funds are appropriated, with the conditions imposed which reflect the desires of the majority of Americans. Deal with it.

The leadership should send the president an open letter, and use some of their leftover campaign funds to publish it in newspapers around the country. It should say clearly that the American people want this occupation to end, that continued funding of the occupation forces will not be forthcoming without provisions for ending the occupation, and if the president chooses to veto the funding measure, the consequences are on his head. It should call on the American people to make clear to this rogue administration, with calls, letters, and e-mails, that this is in fact the will of the people, which the president must accede to.

UPDATE: This is what Sen. Reid actually said:

"The American people want the President and the Congress to work together to bring this war to an end, safely and responsibly. Congressional Democrats are willing to meet with the President at any time, but we believe that any discussion of an issue as critical as Iraq must be accomplished by conducting serious negotiations without any preconditions. Our goal should be to produce an Iraq supplemental bill that both fully funds our troops and gives them a strategy for success.

"With his threat to veto such a plan for change in Iraq, President Bush is ignoring the clear message of the American people: we must protect our troops, hold the Iraqi government accountable, rebuild our military, provide for our veterans, and bring our troops home.

"The President is demanding that we renew his blank check for a war without end. Despite the fact that the President persists in trying to score political points at the expense of our troops, congressional Democrats have repeatedly reached out in the spirit of cooperation. We renew our request to work with him to produce a bipartisan bill that provides our troops and our veterans with every penny they need, but in turn, demands accountability."

This isn't quite strong enough, to my mind, but it's a start. As I've said before, though, it's time to explicitly revoke the 2003 Iraq War resolution, and make it clear that the president's policy of indefinite occupation of Iraq will become illegal after a certain date, to be specified.

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