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Dems stuck in a ‘slow-boil’ strategy

May 18, 2007

Six months after capturing Congress and claiming a mandate to end the Iraq war, Democrats are still reluctantly stuck with a slow boil strategy, blocked by a defiant President George W. Bush.

Despite launching a blizzard of probes into the administration's conduct and rationales for the war and giving the White House a bumpy ride over Iraq, the Democratic anti-war drive is yet to get one soldier home.

After the latest round of acrimony between Congress and the White House, Senate Majority leader Harry Reid on Thursday reminded Americans were sticking to their guns.

"The American people deserve to know the Democrats' commitment to bringing this war to a responsible end has never been stronger," Reid said.

"If enough of our Republican colleagues decide to join with us, even the president of the United States will have to listen."

Despite signs of increasing Republican disquiet over the political price the party may have to pay at 2008 congressional elections over the unpopular war, Bush's backing is yet to fracture.

Not one Republican senator joined a Democratic bid on Wednesday to use Congress's power of the purse to compel Bush to complete the withdrawal of most combat troops from Iraq by March 31, 2008.

Though 29 Democrats, including presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, did sign up, a further 18, mostly from conservative western and southern states, did not make the leap.

"Only 29 members of the Senate voted for establishing a date for defeat," said Republican Senator Mitch McConnell.

So the Democrats in the House of Representatives and the Senate seem to have little choice but to yield ground when they sit down with White House aides and top Republicans to agree an emergency war budget.

The president vetoed their previous 124 billion-dollar effort earlier this month, over the insertion of Democratic timelines for troop withdrawals.

The White House is resisting the idea of troop cuts triggered by any failure of the Iraqi government to meet political and economic benchmarks for progress.

Democratic leaders, however, say they are slowly advancing.

They point out that when a vote on withdrawing troops from Iraq by this July was held last June, only 13 senators voted in favor.

Democrats hope eventually to solidify their own caucus and woo moderate Republicans to piece together a veto-proof majority of 67 votes, which could force Bush's hand.

Under fierce pressure from the anti-war left of the Democratic Party, and the expectations raised by their capture of Congress, leaders know they have little choice but to keep bringing up symbolic legislation.

The Senate formally voted Thursday to convene talks with the House of Representatives next week on a new emergency war budget.

The House last week passed its own measure, which Bush has vowed to veto because it gives him only 43 billion dollars in immediate financing, and forces him to return to ask for 53 billion dollars more in July.

With Reid guaranteeing that the Senate-House conference will produce a budget the president can sign, it looks set to go down as another unsuccessful device to force Bush's hand.

Reid said he would sit down Friday with Nancy Pelosi, speaker of the House of Representatives and White House chief of staff Joshua Bolten to get negotiations under way.

Bush urged the Democrats to get him a bill to sign.

"It's time to put forth a spending bill that doesn't have artificial timetables for withdrawal, doesn't micromanage the military and is wise about how we spend the people's money," he said.

Attention is now shifting to September, when General David Petraeus, the US commander in Iraq, is expected to report on the progress of Bush's strategy to surge nearly 30,000 extra troops into the country.

Senior Republicans have already spoken publicly about a need for a change of strategy if things are not going well.

4 Responses to Dems stuck in a ‘slow-boil’ strategy

  1. Klaus Hergeschimmer

    May 18, 2007 at 3:53 pm

    The Democrats need to take a few of their people to the woodshed such as Senator Carl Levin who voted against a mandatory withdrawl date. Levin has been very problematic, his keester needs to be kicked and gotten into line, as well as Congressman Steny Hoyer & Jerry McNerny whose butts need to be kicked around a little bit.

  2. anonimouse

    May 18, 2007 at 6:19 pm

    If the Democrats who control the House don’t originate a bill for money to continue the occupation, then the occupation ends, right? (Under the Constitution, spending bills must originate in the House.)

    Thus the status quo, where the House fails to provide a bill which Bush will sign, does indeed implement the will of the voters. Indeed, there is nothing more that Congress can do to speed up withdrawal, because Bush remains the military commander and he is off-the-rails crazy. Starving him of funds, while vamping until the existing funds run out, is the only way to influence him.

    So I say, Good job Nancy!

  3. SEAL

    May 18, 2007 at 7:58 pm

    It’s that new group that got themselves elected on a promise to end the war. There are enough of them and they are sticking together to make it impossible to pass a bill that does not set a date for withdrawal. Pelosi would cave in if she could.

  4. long_rider

    May 20, 2007 at 11:29 am

    When the House Speaker said that they would not pursue impeachment, the Democrats lost the war. The chimp won hands down, end of story.

    We already knew that the American communist party (GOP) would back the chimp to the hilt, but by going after the chimp and his WH thuggs would show the American people the facts about the axis of evil that exists in the WH. Nancy does not have the balls to lead people, she rolled over from the word go. We need leadership that will go for the throat, and piss on their dead bodies.

    Democrats are letting an opportunity slip away, rather than showing strength and leadership, they turn the other cheek.

    I guess the communist party will rig another election, and we will be forced to live with another corporate dictator.

    Thanks for your efforts Nancy, but please join the GOP.