29 March 2007

The Mandate Of The American People?

In the current showdown between President Bush and the Democratic led Congress, Democrats tend to claim that their demand for a timeline to retreat and defeat in Iraq is based upon a mandate given to them by the American people in November. For example:

Believing they have been given a clear mandate from voters, Democrats are trying to challenge President Bush on the Iraq war while struggling to find enough votes to do it.
Democrats Seek Votes on Iraq Pullout, ABC News, 22 March 2007

The $124 billion House legislation would pay for wars in Iraq and Afghanistan this year but would require that combat troops come home from Iraq before September 2008 -- or earlier if the Iraqi government did not meet certain requirements. Democrats said it was time to heed the mandate of their election sweep last November, which gave them control of Congress.
Bush Slams Democrats Over Iraq Timetable, WLBZ 2, 23 March 2007

"A narrow majority in the House of Representatives abdicated its responsibility by passing a war spending bill that has no chance of becoming law and brings us no closer to getting the troops the resources they need to do their job," Bush said.

But Democrats said it was time to heed the mandate of their election sweep last November, which gave them control of Congress.
Senate OKs Iraq Withdrawal Timetable, WGAL 8, 27 March 2007
I think that the Democrats are misreading their November victories at the polls. Many disgruntled Republicans stayed home, and others joined frustrated independents in "teaching the Republicans a lesson." I don't believe that the voters said that they wanted to cut-and-run from Iraq when they voted the Republicans out of the control of Congress in November.

There are 49 Democrats, 49 Republicans, and 2 Independents in the Senate, and there are 233 Democrats and 202 Republicans in the House of Representatives. The Democrats have just over half in the House, and they are lucky that the Independents are caucusing with them in the Senate. That is not what I would call a mandate.

When you take a look at the votes, that doesn't necessarily inspire confidence in a mandate either. The House passed their measure by the narrow margin of 218-212. The Senate defeated the amendment to remove the timeline by a vote of 50-48, and then just passed the cut-and-run funding bill this morning by only four votes; 51-47.

Now, I realize that the 2008 election is nineteen months away, but the Democrats should tread lightly where the well-being of our troops is concerned. This could easily be seen by the American people, even through a tainted MSM lens, as being nothing more than a political power-play that puts the needed funding for our troops behind both partisan gamesmanship, and pork barrel spending. If the Democrats come out of this looking like they don't support the troops, and if that sticks, then they can kiss their majority good-bye.

As it is, the American people aren't any more pleased with the Democratic led Congress than they are with the President. Here are the RealClear Politics job approval averages for both the President and Congress as of this morning. Speaker Pelosi and Majority Leader Reid should both look closely at the fact that the President has a higher job approval rating than Congress and, while his disapproval rating is 0.9 points higher, his spread is 2.8 points lower. That is not a good sign for a leadership that has only been in power for a few months. That does not scream mandate.

President Bush Job Approval (RCP Average
Approve: 34.5%
Disapprove: 59.2%
Spread: -24.7%
Poll Details

Congressional Job Approval (RCP Average)
Approve: 30.8%
Disapprove: 58.3%
Spread: -27.5%
Poll Details
The bill still needs to go to conference before it is sent to the President, but it really looks like the Democrats are pinning an awful lot to this one political statement about how they want to end the war. It ticks me off to no end, and if the Republicans continue to point out that the billions in pork and the quickly-out timeline are not what our troops need from a funding bill, I'm willing to bet that a majority of Americans will be angry about how the Democrats are handling this, too.

I, for one, would love to see the President veto this bill in Iraq, while surrounded by the troops. Think of the impact if President Bush stood before the troops and told them that the only reason that he is being forced to veto this bill, a bill that should be providing them with the fiscal means to continue their mission, is due to the fact that he believes in them and their mission, and not in ordering them home before the job is done. I think that that kind of veto would be a huge boost to his approval rating, and an extremely visible show of support for the very troops that this bill is supposed to be helping.

We'll see how this plays out, but if Congress doesn't get a supplemental funding bill for the troops that doesn't contain pork and retreat timelines, then the people who are going to be hurt by this are the men and women in our Armed Forces. That will be on the head of Congress, and I intend to hold Congress responsible for this come November 2008 if they continue to leave our troops unfunded while playing politics on the basis of their misunderstood mandate.


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