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Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Caving In

Democrats caved in yesterday on the idea of a timeline for surrender in Iraq, at least in the current funding proposal for that war and Afghanistan.

Make no mistake, it's a huge cave in for Democrats, who's leader Nancy Pelosi was making the talk show circuit just last weekend complaining that President Bush has a "tin ear" when it comes to Iraq. As late as Sunday she was demanding that he accept the pull out date as part of the bill. Now, just a few days later she's getting ready to present a bill absent that date. To her credit she's said she won't personally vote for it.

I don't actually disagree with her tin ear assessment of the President. However, I do differ on the idea that it's a bad thing. One of the problems Speaker Pelosi and others have with George Bush is that unlike his predecessor in office he doesn't seem to believe in leadership by polls.

Pelosi and the rest of the Democrats got used to the idea from 1992 to 2000 that when shown a poll that wasn't good for him, the leader would flip and do what the polls said was right. They came to view that as leadership, which it isn't by any means.

What they've run into now is a President who believes that leadership is doing the right thing, even if it isn't popular. While many have been balking at that idea over the last few years, the truth is it's an essential form of leadership for a representative republic form of government.

We don't elect leaders to do what the polls say is popular, we elect them to do what they believe is in the best interest of the country.

History provides a few lessons on that, both good and bad. In the late 1930's Congress nearly voted to disband the military, because the idea of another war was so unpopular, and events in Europe had people thinking we'd end up there. Roosevelt calmed enough on Capital Hill down to get rid of what would have been a disasterous plan.

On the other side during the hostage crisis in Iran Jimmy Carter decided that, because so many people were looking for a rescue misison that one should be staged. It was a popular idea that ended in disaster because of poor planning, and a rush to take action.

Back to the current bill, I'm not crazy that it's still stuffed with $20 billion in pork to buy votes, or that the minimum wage increase is being tied to it. However, the final form hasn't been decided and the domestic spending portion of it may possibly be broken off into a separate bill. That hasn't been decided yet, but probably will be by the end of the day.

If it is broken into two, I think that the President should accept the Iraq portion, and veto the domestic spending bill. My gut feeling is it will stay as one bill, Democrats realizing that the pork portion won't have much of a chance without Iraq attached to it.

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