Saturday, December 29, 2007

How Sausage Is Made

I am just perverse enough to have found an article in today's NY Times hysterically funny.

For months President Bush harangued Democrats in Congress for not moving quickly enough to support the troops and for bogging down military bills with unrelated issues.

And then on Friday, with no warning, a vacationing Mr. Bush announced that he was vetoing a sweeping military policy bill because of an obscure provision that could expose Iraq’s new government to billions of dollars in legal claims dating to Saddam Hussein’s rule. ...

Mr. Bush’s veto surprised and infuriated Democratic lawmakers and even some Republicans, who complained that the White House had failed to raise its concerns earlier.

And it gave Democrats a chance to wield Mr. Bush’s support-the-troops oratory against him, which they did with relish. ...

The veto was an embarrassment for administration officials, who struggled on Friday to explain why they had not acted earlier to object to the provision, Section 1083 of a 1,300-page, $696 billion military authorization bill. It would expand the ability of Americans to seek financial compensation from countries that supported or sponsored terrorist acts, including Libya, Iran and Iraq under Saddam Hussein.

The provision, which was sponsored in the Senate by such left wingers as Frank Lautenberg (D-New Jersey), John Cornyn (R-Texas), and Ted Stevens (R-Alaska), was apparently inserted in the bill without public debate. Given that fact and the fact of the bill's sheer bulk (1,300 pages), one could almost understand the failure of the White House to pick up on the provision until after the bill was submitted for signature. And the White House might never have picked up on it but for the vigilance of Iraqi officials in Baghdad who noticed it and complained to the US Ambassador. Yes, Iraqi officials read the bill more closely than the White House staff.

So, it's back to the drawing board for Congress when it comes to funding President Bush's Excellent Adventure. Actually, congressional leaders have promised to re-submit the bill in more acceptable form shortly after the winter recess, because, after all, Congress doesn't want to look like it doesn't support the troops.

I am reminded of a comment Eli made in his post on the recent Paul Krugman column:

The Democrats must remember that the halfway mark between sane and insane is still pretty crazy. Otherwise, the Republicans will get everything they want, simply by always demanding twice as much. Unfortunately, I haven’t seen much evidence that the Democratic leadership realizes that compromising with lunatics is not a winning strategy.

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