Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Deconstructing the veto message

The President said that he vetoed the Emergency War Spending Bill because it “mandated a rigid, and artificial deadline for American troops to begin withdrawing from Iraq.” Moreover, he claimed that the bill imposed “impossible conditions on our commanders in combat.”

Here’s what he is really saying: He wants to wage the same old war, which doesn’t have the support of the American people. He fails to understand that the people have spoken and that elections have consequences. Congress was elected to end the war, and it is completely appropriate to set a timeline for doing so.

The bill ends the war and describes a new and different mission. The bill would require that by the autumn of 2008 however many U.S. troops remain in Iraq may only be used for diplomatic protection, counterterrorism operations, and training of Iraqi Security Forces. Unless certain benchmarks are met, this re-deployment may be required to start earlier.

I suppose you could call that imposing impossible conditions on the commanders in combat. Congress wants to make it impossible to persist on the same course of conduct that isn’t working and which has lost the confidence of the American people.

Just so that we are clear: The President says that we need to stay in Iraq to fight terrorism. The bill that he vetoed allows him to keep troops in Iraq indefinitely for counterterrorism operations.

For as long as I can remember, all presidential speeches have ended with some version of “May God bless America.” A favorite formulation of this president has been “May God continue to bless America.” Tonight, in announcing that he was flouting the will of the American people, he concluded with a new twist: “May God bless our troops.” He may as well have said, “May God help our troops.” President Bush surely won’t.

The president vetoed a bill that prohibits the deployment of troops who are not “fully mission capable” as defined by the Department of Defense – in other words, troops who are fully trained, equipped and protected. The bill that he vetoed provided funding for the Veterans Administration. And the bill refocused the mission of our military on a job for which it is well suited: defeating al Quaeda and terrorists in Afghanistan. Once again, we see that it is the Democrats in Congress who care about the troops.

The president thinks that he has support for the current ill-defined mission in Iraq, and that support extends to stubborn perseveration into the fall of 2008. He’s wrong. As if to prove the point, he vetoed a bill to protect troops and care for veterans.

“... and tell ’em Big Mitch sent ya!”

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