There was a time, not so long ago, that we assumed a Democratic majority would cause enormous problems in getting funding for the war efforts in Iraq and, to a lesser extent, in Afghanistan. If one wanted to see how well the surge has really worked, all the proof can be found in the quiet, mostly bipartisan manner in which the latest supplemental funding bill passed through Congress this month. Instead of crowing over the demolition of Democratic opposition it represents, President Bush took the gracious path of acknowledging the bipartisanship:
Bush made clear to thank members of both parties in Congress, singling out some sponsors of the long-delayed, compromise measure for praise. His positive comments contrasted with the confrontational tone that has dominated the debate between Congress and his administration over Iraq.
The legislation will bring to more than $650 billion the amount Congress has provided for the Iraq war since it began more than five years ago. For operations in Afghanistan, the total is nearly $200 billion, according to congressional officials.
Despite the conciliatory tones of all the administration officials in today’s announcement, the Democrats are privately annoyed at having lost yet another battle to George Bush during his supposed lame-duck year. They did manage to get two of their initiatives added into the bill; one creates a new GI Bill in terms initially opposed by the White House, and the other extends unemployment benefits an additional quarter. On the latter, though, the Democrats had to accept a limitation that grants eligibility only to those who have worked at least 20 weeks before applying for unemployment.
The seeds of Democratic collapse on Iraq were planted firmly in their own hubris and defeatism. Harry Reid set the stage with his staggeringly foolish declaration of defeat on the Senate floor in the spring of 2007, as the surge troops first began arriving in Iraq. As the new efforts began to show results, Democrats insisted that General David Petraeus was simply lying about it — and got exposed afterwards as fools. Only now have they tried to de-emphasize Iraq as an issue in the 2008 cycle, doing their best to keep it off the table and out of the headlines for the rest of the election.
Their effort will help the war effort, and that at least deserves a mention. However, their motives hardly deserve praise, and their track record — from General Harry “Retreat!” Reid almost all the way through their caucuses — speaks for itself.