At a Rose Garden news conference today, President Bush was asked how much of a voice he was willing to give Congress in Iraq war policy. Here was his answer, “I am about to veto a bill that has got artificial timetables for withdrawal. That’s not the only bad thing about the bill. It also imposes the judgment of people here in Washington on our military commanders and diplomats. It also adds domestic spending that’s unrelated to the war. I have made my position very clear — the Congress chose to ignore it, and so I’ll veto the bill.”

Bush continued, “That’s not to say that I’m not interested in their opinions. I am. I look forward to working with members of both parties to get a bill that doesn’t set artificial timetables and doesn’t micromanage, and gets the money to our troops. I believe there’s a lot of Democrats that understand that we need to get the money to the troops as soon as possible. And so I’m optimistic we can get something done in a positive way.” Let me break out my political translator for you. “The Democrats can say whatever they want, but it doesn’t matter. I am the president, and I am going to get the bill that I want one way or another. How much say do the Democrats get? Not much.”

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid once again asked the president to reconsider his veto threat, “If the president wonders why the American people have lost patience, it is because the news out of Iraq grows worse by the day,” Reid said. “When we send the supplemental conference report to President Bush tomorrow, we ask that he take some time to reflect on that somber fact.” Reid isn’t exaggerating when he says that the news out of Iraq gets worse every day. Today, the State Department released a report that stated that 45% of the terrorist attacks in the world last year took place in Iraq. The Pentagon also announced that four more U.S. soldiers died in Iraq this weekend, raising the overall death toll for April to 103. This makes April the second bloodiest month for U.S. casualties since the start of the war.

President Bush is expected to veto the $124 billion congressionally approved war spending bill on Wednesday. There is some talk that the Democrats might agree to drop the troop withdrawal requirements, if Bush agrees to stronger benchmarks for the Iraqi government, though in my mind this would make little sense, because benchmarks without the threat of consequences if they aren’t met have no real value. We have tried benchmarks for years, but the truth is that the Iraqi government has neither the personnel nor the resources to meet most of the U.S, specified goals. The reality is that this is a political battle, and the longer the president takes do nothing; the more momentum continues to grow on the anti-war side. As I wrote before, I expect President Bush to win this particular political battle, but I feel that he has already lost the war.

Full text of Rose Garden news conference

Harry Reid quote

Jason Easley is the editor of the politics zone at 411mania.com.  His news column The Political Universe appears on Tuesdays and Fridays at www.411mania.com/politics

Jason can also be heard every Sunday afternoon at 1:30 pm (ET) as the host of The Political Universe Radio Show at http://www.blogtalkradio.com/thepoliticaluniverse
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