Dems in Charge - Day 2
Top Dems try to show some backbone by slamming a troop surge in Iraq both in public comments and by sending a letter to Pres. Bush in opposition to his new strategy that calls for thousands of new U.S. soldiers in Mesopotamia.
Democratic congressional leaders Friday issued a warning to President Bush on his publicly signaled plans to escalate the U.S. troop presence in Iraq, presaging four weeks of Senate hearings that promise to bring sharp scrutiny and criticism for the White House’s war policy.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) sent a letter to Bush requesting he abandon plans for a troop “surge” in an all-out bid to stabilize Iraq, calling the strategy one “you have already tried and that has already failed.” Reid and other Senate Democratic leaders reiterated their strong disapproval of the Bush gambit during an all-day retreat at the Library of Congress.
“The people of this country no longer support the war in Iraq,” Reid told reporters, adding that Democrats are willing to work with the president but “we believe the tactic would be a serious mistake.”
That's a big change from last weekend when Harry Reid and others seemed to accept Bush's plan as sound, and spoke as if they would not stand in the way of its implementation. Good move to actually tell the President to back off for a change, actually following through - for now - on the real mandate given to the Dems when they won in November: get out of Iraq.
But there will be no cuts in war funding.
Fiscal responsibility was another day 2 focus point, with Dems pushing through a new 'paygo" rule for the House. While this measure looks spectacular on the surface, it will kill most Dem health care and social House bills that are sure to come in the future. Will Pelosi eventually nix this deal? Yes, even though the PR of that move could cost them big come '08. GOP campaigners are sure to use a flip-flop on spending against Dems in all elections next cycle.
Look for Pelosi and Reid to try and keep control of their respective flocks on Monday, trying to quell increasing glee over the spoils of a majority. A full week will give Dems a chance to peddle talk of investigations, impeachment, cutting funds for Iraq (despite the objections of Dem brass) and various other social and foreign policy shenanigans. Granted, this is nothing that Republicans didn't do when they controlled The Hill. But weren't Dems elected to be the anti-GOPers? Playing the same tricks is inevitable, but will leave plenty of disillusioned voters.