Friday, May 25, 2007

So where do we go from here?

That is the question.

The bill is passed, it will be signed and the war is funded through September.

I am disappointed that the Democrats caved – but for some reason, I keep flashing back to my youth and a saying I first heard all those years ago in Britain…The game isn’t worth the candle.

You have probably never heard that adage, but it basically means “No thanks, I’ll pass on the Pyrrhic victory.” I had not thought of that expression for years, but for some reason, that was the first place my mind went when I saw that the Senate had passed the war funding resolution.

Did the Democrats capitulate; or are they trying to set up the chess board, knowing a checkers man is on the other side? I honestly don’t know what they were thinking. But I can see a couple of plausible reasons for things playing out the way they did.

First of all, we need to remember the hard-fought supplemental should not have even been necessary. That this battle even had to be waged was a final, petulant “fuck you” from the 109th congress that did not pass a budget before their fired asses schlepped out of the Capitol for the last time until their triumphant return as lobbyists.

If they had done their job, this drama would never have played out, and that was a Republican, rubber-stamp congress. They did not do the job we paid them to do, so this whole sorry spectacle is a legacy of failed Republican leadership.

Remember that first and foremost, and remind those who forget – or purposely try to dishonestly gloss over that part.

Now let’s get realistic and take stock. The funding resolution that just passed over our objections covers the near-term. It funds the war through September. We are already planning our Memorial Weekend barbecues. Does anyone reading this honestly think that there is not sufficient money in the pipeline already to muddle through the next 16 weeks? (If so, email me about this bridge I’m trying to unload.)

Sixteen weeks is the blink of an eye – but September is magic for a few reasons – not the least of which is that it is also the end of the fiscal year. That, and sixteen weeks is not a hell of a long time to spend debating the funding for the next entire year.

In September, before the next years funding is finalized, General Petraeus will be back before the congress, reporting on the status of the situation on the ground in Iraq.

Does anyone believe that it is going to get better between now and then? Of course not. Between now and then, the number of American dead is going to cross the 4000 mark. The Congress he will appeal to at that time will have a burr under their collective saddle called an angry electorate. And the more dead they bury the angrier they are going to be. September is only 12 weeks from now on the chronological calendar, but on the electoral calendar, September is light years away from now. By then, even entrenched incumbents will be campaigning…

Please don’t misread that as I am willing to use troops as political pawns. I have personally loved too dearly too many of them to ever go down that path – but on that note, Carl von Clausewitz was indisputably right – war is policy by other means. And frankly, in the final analysis of the cold equation – every American in uniform in the volunteer military knows that to be true. It is accepted. We all have our reasons for signing up and signing on. Some are economic, some are idealistic, some are nebulous. But it all clears up pretty quickly once you are in, or that troop is out before the end of boot camp.

I am not absolving anyone of anything, I am just assessing the knowns, and I can see a scenario or two where the Democrats might have looked at the calendar and decided that the game just wasn’t worth the candle.