Congressional Democrats are talking tough on Iraq but are, instead, preparing one more capitulation to the White House on funding the war. After their proposal to provide $50 billion in war funding linked to a gradual troop withdrawal was blocked by the Senate, the Democrats have vowed they won't approve any more war funding this year.
But this year is over in four more weeks. And soon enough, the Democratic bluff will be called. In response, they will posture, bluster and then - you can bet on it-- they will fold. For a harbinger of this dreary scenario, you need look no further than the briefing held Thursday by the powerful Democratic chief of the House subcommittee on military spending, Pennsylvania Rep. Jack Murtha. "Congress wants to come up with an agreement," he said. "Leadership may be willing to compromise" on the time line for troop withdrawal from Iraq.
May be willing to compromise? Really? Insert your laugh track right here, please.
Compromising and capitulating are the only things the Democrats have been doing on this issue. Murtha's statement implies that some sort of deal can be reached with the Republicans in which a somewhat extended troop withdrawal timetable will be agreed upon. During his press conference, Murtha suggested that might be something like a two year calendar.
This is but a cynical word game by the Dems. There aren't remotely enough congressional Republicans willing to make that sort of compromise in order to strike the sort of deal that Murtha's talking about. At least not in the next few months.
Indeed, compromise - at this juncture--is off the table. Nothing is going to change between now and the next five or six weeks when the Democrats will once again be forced to vote on funding. They already have the power to block further funding by simply not pro-actively approving any further appropriations bill. They just refuse to use it.
In withholding funding would the Dems force some sort of a monumental political crisis? Would it encourage the White House to label the opposition as Defeatocrats? Would charges fly that the Dems are leaving the troops in the lurch? Yes, yes, and yes (Three things already in motion). But such a move would also grind the war down to a halt. It would also demonstrate bold, risk-taking political leadership at a moment when the country most demands it.
Don't count on any of that. The Republican White House continues to blackmail the congress, the media and the public, arguing that a reduction or cut-off of funding would be a betrayal of the troops. And the Democrats also continue to game the grim situation - perfectly happy to pose as resolute opponents of the war while eventually continuing funding of the war and hoping to capitalize politically on the mounting unpopularity of the same.
The only losers here are the fatalities and the families.