Tuesday, May 01, 2007

"Mission Accomplished"

Today is the fourth anniversary of when President Bush declared an end to major combat in Iraq and a banner proclaiming "mission accomplished" was unfurled on the U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln where he gave the speech. 96% of fatalities sustained by U.S. forces during the course of the war were after this point.

Today is also the day when House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Leader Harry Reid will hold an enrollment ceremony to send the recently-passed Iraq bill to President Bush, which he will veto tonight and before tomorrow's meeting with Congressional leaders on a new version of the bill. A few presidential scholars talked of the vote:

William Howell, a war powers expert and associate professor at the University of Chicago, said whatever the historical significance of last week's vote, Democrats have gained considerable traction in opposing a wartime president because of the war's unpopularity.

"It establishes this marker so that not now, but six months from now ... Democrats can have the momentum to (override) a presidential veto" if the war is still going badly, Howell said. "Just because it doesn't pass doesn't mean it's not of consequence."

Zelizer agreed, adding that an anti-war vote is no easy task when U.S. troops are fighting abroad.

"It's harder to extricate yourself from a big war, not just strategically but politically," Zelizer said. "It's that first vote that's sometimes the hardest."

Indeed, the article goes on to say the passage of the legislation in many ways surpasses congressional efforts to end the Vietnam War. Congress went years before it was able to agree on legislation significantly challenging presidential war policy, holding some 94 roll call votes on the war between 1966 and 1972.

One can only hope Powell is right that a few months down the road enough Republicans will defect to override President Bush (unfortunately, these are months many of our troops in the field don't have). In the meantime, his rejection of this bill now shows only that he is still as out of touch with reality of the Iraq war as when he declared "Mission Accomplished" four years ago. Any chance he'll pull out the flight suit again for the veto?

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