Sticking To His Guns
If there’s one thing that one could praise President Bush for, it’s his ability to stick to what he says. Case in point, the much-debated troop withdraw bill that congress sent to him last week. He promised a veto, and he delivered. As vetoes go, there’s nothing really special about it this one in particular save the fact that it was a Democratic Congress who sent this bill to a Republican President.
More interesting to note is that the bill, which did pass by more than a simple majority, did not pass by the 2/3 vote required to override a veto. This brings us to the question of the day: “Can the Democrats round up enough votes to overturn Bush’s veto?” My answer, based on what I know of the current congress, is a resolute “No”. Why? Well, the fact that the vote didn’t receive the 2/3 majority vote on it’s first passage suggests to me that it won’t receive the 2/3 majority vote on it’s second go-round. Congress does reserve the option to modify the bill and send it to Bush in a modified state, but Bush seems determined to veto anything that even remotely mentions a troop withdraw scenario, timetable, or includes the words “troop” and “withdraw”.
Besides the aforementioned option of a bill revision, both sides do have other options in play here. The Republican White House’s days are numbered, and they know this. While one can assume the Republicans have a valid shot at the White House in ’08, I would assume that the combination of war and scandals have Americans salivating over a change in political stripe. The Bush Administration could feasibly veto everything congress sends to the White House, hoping to run out the clock and avoid being forced into a situation they’d rather not find themselves in. On the other hand, if they do try to employ this strategy, they could come across as uncooperative to the American public, something they cannot afford to do so close to an election.
- The Democratic Congress has what I think to be the biggest advantage: purse strings. As the ruling party in Congress, the Democrats, if so inclined, could cut-off monetary support to the White House for the remainder of the administration. However, this could cause the Democrats to be viewed as uncooperative. While the Republicans are definitely in the more precarious of the two positions, the Democrats have to be careful in how they play their cards.
There really is no easy way out of this situation. Both sides, as of right now, seem to be in quite the uncompromising mood lately, especially the White House. From what I can gather, no one is really buying into the Republicans message of “damn those unpatriotic Democrats”, and they realize that their time is short and their options are few. The same is true for the Democrats who seem to want to force the White House to abide by the opinion of the masses.
There are really only a few solutions here:
- The White House could back off it’s “No Withdraw” policy and finally formulate an exit strategy.
- The Democrats could back off it’s “Withdraw, and Soon” policy.
- The White House can try to stall things by a series of vetoes and other means until elections take over the national media stage
- The Democrats could deny all funding to the troops in Iraq, forcing them to withdraw within the year.
- The Democrats could try to find that mysterious middle-ground that would satisfy both the White House and Congress.
How likely is it that any of these things could happen? Well, I’m sure Congress will take up the newly-vetoed bill and try to get their 2/3 vote, but I think it’s a slim shot for the Dem’s. In all likelihood, this bill will die in Congress of failure to gain a sufficient number of votes.
The aftermath of this episode may or may not hold any significance on the national political stage other than to create some debating points between candidates when that time comes. In the mean time, the troops will stay deployed in Iraq, the Iraqi civil war will rage on with our troops caught in the middle, and the Republicans and Democrats will fight like spoiled children over who gets to control what. Such is the state of national politics.