In a media conference call Tuesday, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) reinforced the tough stance that she and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) are taking against the Bush-McCain doctrine of escalating the Iraq war, denouncing Bush's historic "poor judgment" and warning that Democrats will not allow their loyalty to the troops to be questioned because of their stance.
"Democrats oppose the escalation. Senator Reid and I signed a letter to that effect to the president last week," said Pelosi, on the 35-minute call with leading Progressive bloggers. "And we're making a very strong differentiation between supporting our troops, which we do -- those in the field now -- and giving a blank check to the president for an escalation of the war."
"He's done this before, this escalation, and it hasn't worked. And the same poor judgment that got us to where we are now , is what he wants us to respect as he goes forward."
Pelosi also made it clear that she and the rest of the Democratic leadership are ready for predictable attempts by the Bush administration to spin opposition to an ill-advised Iraq escalation as Democrats not supporting the troops.
"We will say what we believe is right for our country and if he wants to say 'you're cutting off funding for the troops,' we just have to come right back on that -- because that's all they say," said Pelosi. "What are they going to say? 'You want to cut off money for the troops' -- we're not doing that. There are people who want us to, but that's not what the leadership and the Democratic party in Congress is advocating, by and large.
"We will not be swiftboated on these issues," the House Speaker said firmly.
Pelosi was also asked to look ahead and give her interpretation on whether or not the Iraq war resolution -- or any legislation passed so far -- gives Bush the unilateral authority to invade Iran. She responded that Bush has no singular authority to make such a move and expressed concern that Bush will feign diplomacy, give up easily and move way too quickly to a military option. She was also clear in her commitment to watching Bush like a hawk if he tries to do that.
"No, that resolution does not empower the president or give him the authority to go forward in Iran.
"What I'm concerned about with the president is that he will try to make it look as if he's making diplomatic overtures which are not really of the depth and breadth that they have to be and then say 'well, I've exhausted the diplomatic remedy.'
"So what we have to do on the Congressional side, on our oversight is to, again, be unequivocal in Congress and globally that we do not want them [Iran] to go forward and that we do not want to increase the number of nuclear powers in the world. It endangers the world, it's wrong.
"But, on the other hand, we have time to do this right and we're going to keep a close watch on the president so that he doesn't call a gesture or token diplomacy as 'well, we tried that and it did not work.'"
Speaker Pelosi also confirmed what Bob Cesca wrote in Tuesday's Huffington Post: That one of the conditions being placed on the Iraqi government by the White House is that American oil companies be given first shot at Iraqi oil and be allowed to keep 75 percent of the profits.
"In the president's proposal, one of the standards that he's setting for them to meet is that 75 percent of the oil production goes to U.S. companies," she said. "This is stunning -- 75 percent of the production goes to the U.S. Is this what our kids are over there for?"
But Pelosi is also confident that even George W. Bush has little choice at this point but to admit that he has lost his grip on absolute power and, especially when it comes to escalating the Iraq debacle, will have to contend realistically with strong Democratic opposition.
"The election was a referendum against the president's policies in Iraq, and the president is going to have to, at some point, listen to the American people and we as their representatives will be strong voices -- strong voices for them," said Pelosi.
"I think that the president is paying more attention, of course, because we're in power but, more importantly, because the American people have spoken."
You can read more from Bob at BobGeiger.com.