In ABC's The Note, senior political reporter Rick Klein wrote that "Democrats will still need to move toward the Republican position, unless they want to shut down [Iraq] war funding." In doing so, Klein suggested that unless congressional Democrats compromise and send President Bush a bill he finds acceptable, they will be responsible for cutting off funding to the troops, rather than Bush being responsible.
In the May 2 edition of ABC News' political newsletter, The Note, writing about the standoff between Congress and President Bush over funding the Iraq war, ABC News senior political reporter Rick Klein said that "Democrats will still need to move toward the Republican position, unless they want to shut down war funding" -- suggesting that unless Democrats compromise and send Bush a bill he finds acceptable, they -- not Bush -- will be responsible for "shut[ting] down war funding." Klein then quoted Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA), who reportedly told the Associated Press that he thinks "the Democrats are in a box." Klein's suggestion that the burden lies on Democrats to compromise and that they will be responsible if funding is "shut down" recalls a widespread pattern, identified by Media Matters for America, of the media suggesting that Congress would be cutting off funding to the troops if it were to send Bush a bill that funds the troops but also includes provisions he objects to (which it did), rather than Bush doing the cutting off if he vetoes such a bill (which he also did).
When the posturing ends, though, Republicans are in a position to drive the debate. The simple reason: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid know they're nowhere close to being able to override a veto on the war. They may draw closer if, as Rep. John Murtha (D-PA) wants, the president has to come back for more money every few months. But the Democrats will still need to move toward the Republican position, unless they want to shut down war funding. "I think the Democrats are in a box," Rep. Eric Cantor, R-VA, told the Associated Press' Charles Babington.
Klein suggested that if Congress were to pass another spending bill that includes provisions Bush finds unacceptable, Congress would be responsible for "shut[ting] down war funding."
In the same edition of The Note, titled "Veto Day: The Fallout," Klein also claimed that the standoff between Bush and Congress over war funding symbolized a "polarized country" with each party's political base driving Congress and the White House further apart:
It took nearly four months, but the White House and congressional Democrats finally got the showdown they wanted -- and have ended up just where they started. House Democrats will try and fail to override President Bush's veto of the war funding bill this morning, and congressional leaders will meet with the president at the White House at 2:25 pm ET to discuss the next step.
Behind the standoff is the political reality of a polarized country -- and the parties' bases are pushing the executive and legislative branches in opposite directions. That's why both the president and Democratic leaders were so eager to grab photo-ops yesterday, conveying very different messages. Don't expect an agreement out of today's meeting; both sides know there's no constituency for compromise.
But contrary to Klein's suggestion, it is not just the Democratic base that is pushing for a timeline to withdraw from Iraq. In fact, recent polling indicates that a majority of the country, not just the Democrats' "base," favors withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq. An April 20-24 New York Times/CBS News poll found that 64 percent of respondents said that the United States should "set a timetable for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq sometime in 2008," while 32 percent said it should not. The same poll also found that 57 percent said Congress "should have the final say about troop levels in Iraq," while 35 percent said the president should.
An April 20-23 NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll found that 56 percent of those polled agreed with "Democrats in Congress, who say we should set a deadline for troop withdrawal from Iraq." Thirty-seven percent agreed with "President Bush, who says we should NOT set a deadline for troop withdrawal from Iraq." Moreover, in an April 12-15 Washington Post/ABC News poll, 51 percent of respondents said that the United States should set a deadline for withdrawing U.S. forces from Iraq, while 48 percent said it should not set a deadline. The same poll found that 51 percent of respondents said they supported "legislation that would continue funding for the war, but also set a deadline of no later than August 2008, for the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq"; 46 percent opposed it.
Media Matters Senior Fellow Eric Boehlert recently wrote that Mark Halperin asked to leave his position as ABC News political director and author of The Note to become an ABC News analyst. After several weeks, The Note has debuted its new format, without Halperin in charge.