Monday, April 09, 2007

Voice of Reason

With Democrats in Congress handing Bush and Cheney chances to label them as letting down the troops in Iraq and, in effect, give them co-ownership of the eventual debacle there, Sen. Carl Levin, chairman of the Armed Services Committee, has cleared the air.

"We are not going to cut funding, period," Sen. Levin said today. "But what we should do, and we're going to do, is continue to press this president to put some pressure on the Iraqi leaders to reach a political settlement."

In effect, Levin is overruling Majority Leader Harry Reid, who seems to have been carried away by his heady new position, last week reminding President Bush he is not "king" of the U.S. and threatening to cut off war funding if the troops are not out by March of next year.

Levin knows it's more complicated than that: "We can keep the benchmarks part of the bill without saying that the troops must begin to come back within four months. If that doesn't work and the president vetoes because of that, and he will, then that part of it is removed, because we're going to fund the troops.

"And what we will leave will be benchmarks, for instance, which would require the president to certify to the American people if the Iraqis are meeting the benchmarks for political settlement, which they, the Iraqi leaders, have set for themselves."

Not as good a sound bite as the Majority Leader's, but Sen. Levin has earned the right to speak as the voice of reason. In October 2002, he voted against the resolution to let Bush invade Iraq. Sen. Reid voted for it.

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