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Sure, Mr. President, Blame Congress


At his press conference yesterday, the president was asked about efforts to find "common ground" with congress. He complained that while he and congress have found common ground on FISA (with that sort of common ground, who needs checks and balances?) and trade, he hadn't seen any legislation yet.

Then he rolled into this whopper:

Veterans Affairs is an area where we can find common ground. I've called in - I asked Bob Dole and Donna Shalala to lead an important commission, a commission to make sure our veterans get the benefits they deserve. I was concerned about bureaucratic delay and concerned about a system that had been in place for years. But this didn't recognize this different nature -- a different kind of war that we're fighting.

I don't like it when I meet wives who are sitting by - beside their husband's bed in Walter Reed and not being supported by its government, not being helped to provide care. I'm concerned about PTSD, and I want people to focus on PTSD. And so we sent up a bill and I hope they move on it quickly. There's a place where we can find common ground.

Forget for a moment that Veterans Affairs and Walter Reed, as part of the Defense Department, are different agencies. Forget common ground on a PTSD bill.

The reason those "wives... are sitting by - beside their husband's bed in Walter Reed and not being supported by its government" is because our government has embarked on a dubious war without the resources it needed to support our troops abroad or at home. Because even as Bush hasn't asked the country to make any sacrifice for his noble cause, neither, really has his administration. Whether its body armor in the field, oversight at the hospitals caring for the maimed, or outsourcing the war effort, the administration reeks of disingenuousness. "Common ground" may be the default with a lockstep Republican congress or a gutless Democratic congress, but the buck stops at the White House.

Just watch what happens when Iraq gets smart and exercises some autonomy and pushes us to pull some 100,000-plus unaccountable contractors out of their country. Forget protecting State Department employees. The whole military supply chain will fall apart. No meals for the troops, material won't get trucked in, prisons won't be guarded.

The kind of common ground we need is the kind that pays more than lip service to the world we've created. It's the common ground that comes from speaking honestly about the mess we've gotten ourselves into. Go ahead, Mr. President, you start.