Here’s the news from the Democratic Congress as reported by Peter Baker in the Washington Post:
A budget dispute erupted into a full-scale battle Tuesday as President Bush vetoed the Democrats’ top-priority domestic spending bill and the party’s Senate leader threatened to withhold war funding if the president does not agree to pull out of Iraq.
The long-anticipated clash came to a head as Bush rejected a $606 billion bill to fund education, health and labor programs, complaining that it was too expensive and full of pork.
Within hours, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., declared that Bush will not get more money to pay for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan this year unless he accepts a plan to complete troop withdrawals by the end of next year.
This looks like the familiar Democratic menu — pork and defeat — although the timing of Reid’s announcement regarding funding our efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan suggests that perhaps the Dems might settle for pork or defeat. In either case, the menu has always been unappetizing, and is even less so now that it’s clear that defeat in Iraq is entirely avoidable.
Hillary Clinton should be very concerned about the revival of this menu. If she’s nominated, her opponent will either be a non-Senator or Senator McCain a leading anti-pork, pro-victory advocate. Either way, the Republican nominee will be able to run against the Senate.
Nor will it be the least bit unfair to portray Clinton as the symbol of that body’s pork and defeat syndrome. Clinton has been an aggressive porker — the Woodstock museum being only one particularly amusing instance. During today’s blogger phone call, McCain presented an impressive list of frivolous sounding earmarks Clinton has supported for her home state, e.g., preservation of the Seneca knitting mill and a jazz education program.
On the defeat front, Clinton been performing a high-wire act — trying to maintain some credibility as a tough-minded potential commander-in-chief without alienating the anti-war base. She’s performed that act about as well as possible, but doing so still entails having at least one foot in the camp of defeat. And that seems to be an increasingly undesirable place for a presidential candidate to be.
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