- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 3, 2007

After the midterm elections, the Democratic congressional leadership promised not to cut funding for the war. “We’re not going to do anything to limit funding or cut off funds,” said Harry Reid on Nov. 30. “For the troops” was the Democratic mantra then. This week, fingers ever in the wind, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi blew the doors off that post-election promise, saying that President Bush’s refusal to accept a timeline for withdrawal requires that they threaten a cutoff.

The legislation Democrats plan to push when the Senate returns to work next week reads: “Prohibition on Use of Funds — No funds appropriated or otherwise made available under any provision of law may be obligated or expended to continue the deployment in Iraq of members of the United States Armed Forces after March 31, 2008.”

“I am delighted to be working with the majority leader to bring our involvement in the Iraq war to an end,” Sen. Russ Feingold, Wisconsin Democrat, said this week. The bill “end funding for the president’s failed Iraq policy.” There is no confusion on what this bill intends.

Words have no meaning if this can be reconciled with directly antithetical promises made only a few months ago. Mr. Reid made his “not going to do anything” statement three weeks after the elections. This wasn’t some phony campaign promise. It was a phony Washington promise. All indications are that this statement was intended to be taken seriously as an indication of how Democrats would proceed in the 110th Congress. Naturally, it is proven this week to be utterly mendacious.

It’s not just Mr. Reid who has flip-flopped in the last four months. Here’s Mrs. Pelosi on Dec. 5: “We will not cut off funding for the troops.”

To hear Democrats explain the discrepancy, it’s all Mr. Bush’s fault. His refusal to acquiesce in a withdrawal timeline forced it, they say. Of course. Now we’re clear on the meaning of these post-election promises. “We will not cut off funding for the troops” actually meant: “We might cut off funding if President Bush resists our attempts to micromanage the war in Iraq.”

This mindset is not new. Its animus is to downplay one’s own responsibility and pretend that Iraq is someone else’s problem. Take Sens. Joe Biden and Chuck Hagel, two pivotal votes in the Senate’s 50-48 Iraq withdrawal amendment. They won’t be advertising it today, but in 2002, in the run-up to the Iraq invasion, they wrote in The Washington Post that “the decade after” the Iraq invasion will be “the most challenging phase.” Our presence in Iraq “will be necessary for several years.” We will need to spend “up to $20 billion a year,” they wrote, not including “the cost of the war itself, or the effort to rebuild Iraq.” Last week, they both voted for withdrawal. We cannot think of a worse problem than Iraq for lawmakers’ games of chicken or fingers in the wind.

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