This is from Meet the Press yesterday. Nutroots-approved Sen. Jim Webb doesn’t think the nutroots-approved idea of cutting funding for the troops in Iraq is a good one.
Pay attention to Webb’s wording on this. The specific idea of directly and openly cutting off funding earns Webb’s “not a winning formula” phrase. But what would be a “winning formula?” Well, the Democrats are playing with war funding in a different way than just cutting it off: They packed the last DoD war funding authorization with a withdrawal timetable that was veto bait for President Bush. He vetoed it, leaving DoD to scramble to pay for Iraq out of its ordinary spending budget.
So the Democrats are in fact cutting off war funding. They’re just disguising the cutoff to deflect criticism and, once again, blame Bush.
Update: Code snafu, fixed.
More: Here’s a partial transcript of Webb on MTP.
SEN. WEBB: Well, the problem with the administration’s approach to this is they constantly use fear tactics. They did the same thing when I offered this wartime amendment, where basically all I was saying was however long our military people have been in Iraq or Afghanistan, they deserve to have that much time at home before they go again. And the Pentagon, the administration, started saying this was going to cause Americans to die and etc., etc., etc. President Bush has said that…
MR. RUSSERT: Call up more Guard.
SEN. WEBB: Or you can, you can develop a rotational policy after, after five years of doing this that’s going to ensure people the same amount of time at home before they go. If President Bush had said to do it, they’d have been saluting and doing it. And this is the same sort of thing. There’s, there’s no one in the Congress that is going to interrupt funding that goes to the ability of the military to take care of the present responsibilities.
The difficulty that, that we have here, it’s sort of the elephant in the bedroom for this entire time period, has been how long are we going to be in Iraq? What are we funding implicitly as opposed to explicitly? And we don’t get to have this debate, and so the, the lever that the Congress has, the one pure, clear, constitutional lever, is the appropriations lever, and so the question becomes what is it we’re funding? If you’re, if you’re—if you want bases in Iraq for the next 50 years, which is what the Republican leadership now is finally openly saying—Mitch McConnell said it on the Senate floor several weeks ago, “This, this should look like Korea 50 years from now”—then you’re going to have one sort of approach, which you ought to be open about it. So we’re voting for these things, where in there you have money that’s directed toward ongoing operations, but you have all these other sorts of things as well, and so, you know, the question becomes how you draw the line. But the one thing for sure is nobody’s going to cut off funding for the, the things that are necessary for our people to be able to do their job on the ground in Iraq and Afghanistan.
MR. RUSSERT: But many Democrats have said, “We want to stop the funding for the war, period.”
SEN. WEBB: And I think that’s just not a winning formula.
It’s the “winning formula” phrase that’s salient. By “winning,” Webb isn’t referring to Iraq but to the politics of withdrawal and benefiting Democrats.