It's unclear what might have tipped-the-balance here, but what we do know is that Hillary Clinton has been on television today back-peddling on her support of the war, an amazing about-face that she's been known for. There has possibly been some behind-the-scenes event here that we're going to learn about shortly, but rest assured that the politicos are always getting their marching orders from the wealthy. There is a strong-possibility that there is a move here to limit the damage to the Office of the President of the United States itself, that coveted seat in the 2008 elections.
Several congressional sources reported privately that timelines, fiercely resisted by Bush, and the cause of his veto of a previous 124 billion dollar funding bill, would likely not be included. However the bill, intended to finance the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq until the end of September, would include some kinds of benchmarks to force Bush to report on the Iraqi government's progress on security and political issues, sources said. "We have moved the ball forward," said another source, a Democratic staffer, on condition of anonymity. "Whatever bill the president is going to sign is going to contain some kind of benchmarks." (AFP, 05.21.2007)
But this is also part of a GOP counter-attack. In just hours of the writing of this piece today, the House votes--or doesn't--on whether to reprimand Congressman John Murtha for confronting GOP Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mi.) on earmarks in Murtha's district:
Murtha has not disputed a Republican claim that he stormed across the House floor May 17 to confront Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Mich. Rogers had tried unsuccessfully to strike a $23 million Murtha earmark—or narrowly targeted spending item—for a drug intelligence center in Murtha's district. In a House speech Monday, Rogers said Murtha threatened him by saying, "you will not get any earmarks now and forever." (AP, 05.22.2007)
Is it true? It seems to be incontrovertible, and the vote may or may not happen today. What it does appear to be, however, is a coordinated attack on Rep. Murtha, regardless of how one feels about his guilt or innocence in the affair. It's likely there is only one reason, and that's what he's being accused of: "bullying for partisan reasons." We've seen almost nothing-but this behavior from Republicans in Congress and the White House for six years, but the real bad guy is John Murtha. What the GOP in Congress is saying is, "only we get to do that." Hopefully, the vote will be struck-down.
Back to the backing-down: this has been stated by the press before, on May 2nd. By May 4th, the press was told otherwise, but it appears this one will be sticking. If the mainstream press loves to announce anything, it's a Democratic defeat, but this one is getting less-play than usual. The question is why. Going back, one could read the Washington Post's May 3rd piece and conclude it was written this week:
Beyond that, Democrats remain deeply divided over how far to give in to the White House.
House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (Md.) indicated that the next bill will include benchmarks for Iraq -- such as passing a law to share oil revenue, quelling religious violence and disarming sectarian militias -- to keep its government on course. Failure to meet benchmarks could cost Baghdad billions of dollars in nonmilitary aid, and the administration would be required to report to Congress every 30 days on the military and political situation in Iraq. (Washington Post, 05.03.2007)
It's been two-weeks, and little has changed...except it appears that the Democrats are really going to capitulate on timetables this time. Yes, they've reiterated that they're "still committed to ending this war," yet the smell of defeat is there. It's not sexy, is it? It's more of that musk of defeat and fear of losing elections, when they really have it in-the-bag if they continue to push the president to end the war in an aggressive and unrelenting fashion.
This is occurring in other quarters, particularly with the U.S. Attorney firings scandal and the future of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. Last week brought us the resignation of World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz, a Bush appointment and architect of the war in Iraq. Tony Blair will be also be stepping-down in June. With the president running-out of allies everywhere, radical measures and desperation are going to be the hallmark of the last days of the Bush administration. Simply fighting for survival will be their top-priority, forget any agenda.
The real problem in Congress for critics of the war everywhere are the hawks in both parties who insist on their continued support of the president and the war. What they want--in many cases--is an Orwellian reality of endless war. The time is coming--next year--to flush these scumbags out of Congress forever. If anyone could illustrate more their commitment to undermining the security and the lives of the American people, they would have to be the Bush administration itself or Al-Qaida (same thing). Was the May 3rd "concession" by Democrats a dry-run for this week? Were they "testing-the-waters" at that time? If they were, they should know that the public isn't having their capitulation to the Bush administration on any front. Yet:
Though details of the bill were sketchy, Democratic sources said it included some type of political and security benchmarks the Iraqi government would be required to meet. There were also reportedly elements on enforcing troop readiness standards and an attached portion raising the minimum wage of US workers, apparently in an attempt to appease the liberal anti-war wing of the Democratic Party. Democrats will argue that despite their failure to compel a troop withdrawal, Bush is now facing strict oversight on his war policy, unlike the docile acceptance they say prevailed when Republicans controlled Congress. (AFP, 05.22.2007)
It was a wait-and-see in the beginning of this month, but it appears that the Democrats are obsessed with being wimps and the whipping-boys of the GOP. We should be asking them why. Like last time, it's a hard-call on whether any of this is even true, or simply a disinformation campaign. It's possible that Democratic proposals to halve or even scrap the guest worker program in the McCain/Kennedy immigration bill is a response, a wedge the president cannot afford if he wishes to have any discernable legacy (that isn't negative). Wilfully ignoring or misreading the November 2006 midterms can be bad for one's political health. Non-binding benchmarks do nothing to curtail the president's illegal war, nor do they contribute to ending it.
AFP on the Democratic back-peddling, 05.21.2007: http://www.breitbart.com/article.php?id=070521234624.sosbrhri&show_article=1&cat=0
AP Today on congressman Murtha: http://www.breitbart.com/article.php?id=D8P9HAKO0&show_article=1&catnum=-1
AP on the "capitulation: today: http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20070522/ap_on_go_co/us_iraq;_ylt=AtkPWUU91QQ9OSP.0l0EbzGMwfIE