Well, this is encouraging: as George W. Bush again tries to demagogue the Democrats over funding his Splendid Little War, both the Democrats and the media are refusing to read his script.
WASHINGTON, April 10 — President Bush delivered a stern lecture to Democratic Congressional leaders today, asserting that they are being irresponsible in not passing an Iraq-Afghanistan supplemental-financing bill to his liking.
“The bottom line is this,” Mr. Bush said. “Congress’s failure to fund our troops will mean that some of our military families could wait longer for their loved ones to return from the front lines. Others could see their loved ones headed back to war sooner than anticipated. This is unacceptable.”
Mr. Bush chose a friendly venue for his remarks (an American Legion post in nearby Fairfax, Va.), and the timing was surely no coincidence. The Senate reconvened today, and the House of Representatives will be back in session next week.
The president got a friendly reception from the Legionnaires, some of them veterans of World War II or the Korean War, and a sharp reaction from Senate Democrats, who vowed not to back down.
“Democrats are united in our commitment to fully fund our troops on the ground in Iraq and here at home,” said Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the majority leader. “But we are also determined to provide our troops a strategy for success in Iraq, which President Bush has failed to do from the very start of this war over four years ago.”
“We are speaking for the American people,” Mr. Reid said at a Capitol news conference. “He isn’t.”
Reid is hitting all the right notes here: they've agreed to pass a bill to provide for the troops "on the ground in Iraq and here at home" (an allusion to the disgraceful Walter Reed care scandal, directly caused by the administration's fetish for outsourcing government functions) but also insist on changing course in Iraq. It's probably somewhat disingenuous at best to assert that the Democrats' legislation provides "a strategy for success"--a better description would be "a strategy for cutting our losses"--but the message is there: Bush has dug us a huge hole in Iraq, and Democrats are determined to take away his shovel.
Some kudos for the story here too. Note the descriptor "to his liking" in the first graf; there are similar notes throughout the piece. Maybe the Times feels a particular obligation to be neutral on Iraq now; in any event, it's nice to see that they aren't just serving as message-stenographers for the Bush Imagineers.
I'm not generally all that into the George Lakoff stuff, but I think Reid and Pelosi are doing something shrewd here: every statement they make reinforces the notion of a petulant, uninformed president who, if he can't set the rules of the game and isn't allowed to win every time, will take his policymaking ball and go home. I think that this piece of satire captures Bush's mindset on the war better than any more sober analyses I've read.