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Democrats back away from Iraq troops withdrawal demand

Sunday, 8 April 2007 Leave a comment Go to comments

It’s no surprise that I’m a critic of the “war on terrorism” and the concept of our voluntary military.  I’m opposed to the ideology that supports it.  And so, when I found this article, I felt as though it should be OUT.  Folks on both sides of the issue are looking for folks [their representatives] to stand up to the powers that be.  Who will it be?

So, this will cause election woes for the Dems…what ever happened to social democracy?

April 8: Democrats back away from Iraq troops withdrawal demand

Also on the Sunday shows: Gingrich says it’s best for Gonzales to Go; Huckabee says he’s the man to take on Clinton; Thompson lists Iraq principles

For the second straight weekend, top Senate Democrats shrunk further away from core principles they had set out in the Iraq war debate, signaling Sunday that they were prepared to drop a timetable mandating the withdrawal of U.S. troops, should President Bush fulfill his vow to veto current war funding legislation.

Last Sunday, senior Democrats said that they would not hold back funding for the war if the president vetoed a bill including an Iraq withdrawal timetable. Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.), chairman of the Armed Services Committee, reiterated that point on ABC’s “This Week.” He said, “We’re not going to vote to cut funding, period.”

Sen. Carl Levin (AP Photo/ABC News, Lauren Victoria Burke)

After a veto, he said, “there’s a number of options. Either we can keep the benchmarks part of the bill without saying that the troops must begin to come back.” And if that doesn’t work, “what we will leave will be benchmarks, for instance, which would require the president to certify to the American people if the Iraqis are meeting the benchmarks for political settlement, which they, the Iraqi leaders, have set for themselves.”

Democrats also suggested their strategy would be to portray Bush as the one who is denying funds to the troops.

“Should he veto this bill, which means he will be vetoing the money for the troops, we will try to come up with a way, … trying to compromise with the White House, that both supports the troops and yet changes the strategy in Iraq, which we feel is misguided,” Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) said on “Fox News Sunday.”

“And by the way, 70 percent of the American people feel it’s misguided. If a change in strategy means not supporting the troops, then 70 percent of the American people don’t support the troops.”

The House and Senate have both passed $100 billion spending bills to pay for the wars in Iraq and Afgahnistan. The House bill would require U.S. combat troops to leave by Sept. 1, 2008, while the Senate bill asks that troops begin to leave in 120 days, a process to be completed by March 31, 2008. House and Senate negotiators are to work on a compromise bill to send to the president when the House comes back from recess in a week.

Some Democrats, including Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (Nev.), have vowed to pursue legislation that would cut off funds for combat operations on March 31, if Bush continues to keep a large troop presence there. That would go much further than the bills currently being considered, which Democrats have emphasized would not cut funding.

Levin suggested that the more far-reaching bill, co-sponsored by Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Russell Feingold (D-Wisc.) would not go anywhere if it contains measures to cut funding. “Harry Reid acknowledged that that’s not going to happen. He has a personal position, which he said was not the caucus position. He was very clear when he joined a bill which would cut off funding under certain circumstances.”

Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.), chairman of the Republican Conference, said the Congress should send the president a war spending bill without conditions. “The point here is that when you send the president a bill that has a big poison pill in it like that … he’s going to veto it. This is a very risky strategy,” Kyl said on ABC’s “This Week.” “Every day of delay is a day when we’re not sending troops the body armor they need, the humvees that they need and all of the other things that they need.

Also on the foreign policy front this morning:

— On Fox, Former House speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.),who is mulling a presidential bid, had harsh words about the response to Iran’s seizure – and return – of 15 British Navy personnel: “The West was humiliated. The British were humiliated. The Europeans were humiliated. The United Nations was humiliated. … We should be actively seeking to replace that government by bringing every kind of non-military pressure to bear we can, to destabilize that government and help the people of Iran, replace it with a moderate government.”

— On CNN, Sens. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) and Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.), who caucuses with the Democrats, switched partisan roles discussing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s recent visit to Syria, in spite of administration wishes.
“She has a very prominent constitutional role in determine what’s going to happen in the Iraqi war. Syria is very much involved with respect to the funding,” Specter said.

Lieberman disagreed: “Her visit to Syria was a mistake, that it was bad for the United States of America and good for the Syrians. And I say this because Syria — we’re in a war. We’re in a war against the Islamist terrorists who attacked us on 9/11/01. Syria is a state sponsor of terrorism.”

U.S. Attorney Firings: No lenience for Gonzales

This morning, it became pretty clear that Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales is lucky Gingrich is no longer the speaker of the House of Representative.

Gingrich suggested that it would be best if Gonzales resigned in the mounting congressional probe into the firings of eight U.S. attorneys,

Newt Gingrich (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

“I cannot imagine how he is going to be effective for the rest of this administration,” the former speaker said. “Thanks to our good friends in the Senate side, they’re going to be involved in endless hearings, which is going to take up an immense amount of time and effort. I think the country, in fact, would be much better served to have a new team at the Justice Department, across the board.”

Campaign 2008: Mike Huckabee

On this relatively quiet Easter Sunday, former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee , a Baptist pastor running for the GOP presidential nomination, had his time under the sun as the sole guest on CBS’s “This Week.” And he spoke with sky-blue clarity about his political positions on abortion, the role of Christian conservatives in American politics and Iraq.

Mike Huckabee(AP)

When the topic came to the reality of running a presidential campaign, however, the discussion got a little more muddied. Host Bob Schieffer asked about the “obscene” amounts of campaign cash the three leading GOP hopefuls raised in the first three months of the year — nearly $50 million combined, or 100 times the half-million Huckabee took in.

“This is a time when people are talking about $100 million before the end of the year. If that’s the case, do you really want someone in charge of the federal treasury who burns $100 million before the first vote is cast?” Huckabee said.

Huckabee said the real question is how much he can raise in the future, perhaps using a bit of hyperbole to suggest what’s possible. “This is the kind of environment in which a candidate can catch fire, and people go to the Web site that he has and make contributions over the Internet. And I could raise $20 million overnight if everyone watching this show just simply went and said, I’ll make a $100 contribution. The point is that things can change so rapidly.”

Schieffer interrupted, “That’s kind of a big if. I mean, you know, they always say, you know, the dog could have caught the rabbit if he hadn’t stopped to make that phone all. … You’re going to have to have a tremendous s of money to even have a chance. I’m not saying that’s fair. … It’s simply the golf course that politics is played on these days. It’s not clear to me how you can get from there to here.”

Huckabee said, “Well, again, if I thought that I had raised all the money I was going to realistically raise, I’d be out of it today. But what I’m telling it is that we’re on the front end of our fund- raising, not on the back side.”

Schieffer also asked about laudatory comments Huckabee made of one of the Democratic candidates, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.) – that she’s focused, disciplined and brilliant.

Was he angling for a cabinet post in a Clinton administration? Schieffer wondered.

Huckabee said he’s not – “I don’t think I’d accept” – but he did say he knows her the best of the GOP candidates and “that’s why I’m the best candidate on the Republican side.”

“I know … how dangerous she can be as a candidate,” Huckabee said. “That’s one of the reasons that I believe my candidacy offers the clearest contrast, and an opportunity for America to have maybe a real, solid choice.”

Other notes from Huckabee:

— He thinks Christian conservatives should engage Republicans and Republican politics with the same critical eye on social and family issues they did President Clinton in the 1990s.

— He thinks displays or religion on public property – the nativity scene on Capitol grounds, for example – are just fine.

— He thinks the United States must win in Iraq and doesn’t think a timetable for removing troops is a good idea.

Campaign 2008: Tommy Thompson

Another GOP presidential hopeful, four-term former Wisconsin governor Tommy Thompson , spent a few minutes on CNN.

He said his strategy for Iraq has four parts: 1. Protect the troops. 2. The Iraqi government must have a vote on whether the U.S. should stay in the country and the U.S. should follow whatever they say 3. The 18 territories in Iraq should elect their own leaders and operate like U.S. states. He didn’t get to the fourth part.

The health and human services secretary during Bush’s first term, Thompson also said he’s pro-life and would like to see the federal government regulate nicotine as it does so many other drugs.

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