The PoliBlog

The Collective
Sunday, April 1, 2024
By Dr. Steven Taylor

Earlier this week (Wednesday), President Bush stated:

“Now, some of them believe that by delaying funding for our troops, they can force me to accept restrictions on our commanders that I believe would make withdrawal and defeat more likely,” Bush continued. “That’s not going to happen. If Congress fails to pass a bill to fund our troops on the front lines, the American people will know who to hold responsible.”

This prompted Speaker Pelosi to respond :

“Take a deep breath, Mr. President,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) said as she urged President Bush to back away from threats to veto any war funding bill that sets dates for withdrawing U.S. forces from Iraq.

“Calm down with the threats,” Pelosi said. “There’s a new Congress in town. We respect your constitutional role. We want you to respect ours.

Both quotes, which have been the sound bites of the weekend, can be found in various places, including this LAT piece.

I will say this: part of Pelosi’s statement sounds like something out of a spaghetti western (of course, Bush sounded like a father scolding a small child). The last two sentences, which I emphasized above, are key. Regardless about one’s view of the bill, the bottom line is that the Congress has the absolute constitutional right to pass the bill they passed. To assert otherwise is to ignore the plain words in the Constitution itself in terms of the enumerated powers granted to Congress. Of course, on the other hand, the President has the clear constitutional right to veto the bill. This will trigger the need for some sort of compromise. Neither side can afford being blamed for defunding the troops, and more to the point there are items in the bill that Bush wants (i.e., the money to continue his policies) and things that Congress wants (movement towards withdrawal from Iraq). A veto will require that a new bill be constructed. The healthy course of action would be for negotiations to take place between congressional leaders and the administration, although the President’s absolutist position on his foreign policy powers makes such discussion difficult to achieve.

And while there is clearly something untoward about the subsidies and such in the bill, the bottom line is that everyone who is declaring their outrage over the bill reminds me of the following scene from Casablanca:

Rick Blaine: How can you close me up? On what grounds?

Captain Louis Renault: I’m shocked–shocked to find that gambling is going on in here.

[A croupier hands Renault a pile of money.]

Croupier: Your winnings, sir.

Captain Louis Renault: Oh, thank you…. very much. Everybody out at once!

So. enough with the faux outrage.

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