Wednesday :: Apr 26, 2006

Treading Water And Losing Support On Iraq

by Steve

While the Snow job and Rove’s appearance at the grand jury will dominate the news today, there are two other developments of note. First, and as to be expected with the midterms coming for a party that has a 32% dead man walking at the helm, the Pentagon announced this morning that 30,000 troops could be pulled out of Iraq this year, if all goes well. I know that some, rightly so, think this is nothing more than a head fake, and that in fact we will never draw down 30,000 troops from Iraq when we have permanent bases over there nearing completion. I beg to differ. Why? Because these guys read polls.

Even if things keep going to hell over there, those 30,000 will still be coming out of Iraq before November, with much fanfare, regardless of the situation on the ground. It's all about images of returning soldiers and a tamp down on the bad coverage from Iraq, which is why the Snow-Fox connection was implemented now. But it’s so bad that Iraqis now see a surprise visit by Rummy and Rice as counterproductive.

Second, in a sign that domestic politics have overtaken Iraq, the Senate today redirected money out of the Iraq/Afghanistan supplemental appropriation towards improving border and port security. Get used to it. I don’t think there will be any more blank checks for Rummy or Bush in Iraq. Note how willing a GOP senator was to make Rummy eat the $1.9 billion in reduced Iraq funding to pay for the border and port security increases, while a certain Democratic senator seemingly was against making Rummy do so.

While the border security funds had sweeping support, Democrats and Republicans argued over whether the cuts to Pentagon war funds would harm troops on the ground in Iraq. The cuts, offered by Judd Gregg, R-N.H., trim Bush’s request for the war by almost 3 percent but don’t specify how.
Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., said Gregg's cuts would "take money from troop pay, body armor and even joint improvised explosive device defeat fund. Now that is a false choice and it is a wrong choice."
Gregg responded heatedly, arguing that the cuts eventually would come from other parts of the massive Pentagon budget rather than U.S. forces in Iraq.
"To come down here and allege that these funds are going to come out of the needs of the people on the front lines in Iraq or Afghanistan is pure poppycock," he said.
An amendment by Democratic Leader Harry Reid of Nevada to add the border security funds but not tap the Pentagon for them failed by a 54-44 vote.
Get that? The Senate wants Rummy to eat it. And now the Democrats have insulated themselves from any GOP attacks in the future that they want to take money from our forces on the ground.
Steve :: 11:45 AM :: Comments (10) :: TrackBack (0) :: Digg It!