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Democrats Who've Never Pulled Off a Band-Aid

3:51 PM, May 3, 2007 • By BRIAN FAUGHNAN
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The Washington Post reported this morning that House Democrats made a key concession in talks with the White House on the Iraq supplemental--they will not include a timetable for the withdrawal of U.S. troops:

President Bush and Congressional leaders began negotiating a second war funding bill yesterday, with Democrats offering the first major concession: an agreement to drop their demand for a timeline to bring troops home from Iraq.

Democrats backed off after the House failed, on a vote of 222 to 203, to override the president's veto of a $124 billion measure that would have required U.S. forces to begin withdrawing as early as July. But party leaders made it clear that the next bill will have to include language that influences war policy. Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (Nev.) outlined a second measure that would step up Iraqi accountability, "transition" the U.S. military role and show "a reasonable way to end this war."

This afternoon however, that point seems to be in dispute. Ms. Pelosi's office is reportedly informing several bloggers on the left that this report is not accurate.

Semantics aside, it doesn't help the Democrats to defer answering this question. There are games that they can--and apparently will--play, to defer the decision on whether to cut off funds for the troops. However, they will eventually have to decide whether to deny the president a funding bill that he can accept, or to pass legislation that allows the war to continue.

Democratic leaders are clearly feeling the pressure from the base--and from certain presidential candidates. They've decided they can't be seen to cave to the president--at least not yet.

What can they do?

Well, if they believe that the Senate will pass a bill that has the president's support--which is likely--they can continue to demagogue and play the 'more anti-war than thou card.' They can re-pass legislation very similar to the one that passed the House several weeks ago. Then they can wait until conference with the Senate to be 'forced' to compromise. Then the 'blame' will fall on Harry Reid and Senate moderates.

But if they eventually intend to compromise--if they really plan to fund the troops--then why continue this charade? Surely it's better to pull off that Band-Aid quickly, rather than prolong the agony?

The Democratic leadership team can do whatever it chooses. But if they will ultimately pass legislation to fund the war, then why encourage the base to believe otherwise? It only puts more pressure on moderate Democrats, who will ultimately 'side' with President Bush.