‘Playing politics’ is in the eye of the beholder

bush-4-3-07.jpgPresident Bush today noted — click here for audio and video — that it has now been 57 days since he asked Congress to pass an emergency supplemental spending bill to fund the war in Iraq.

“In a time of war it’s irresponsible for the Democratic leadership in Congress to delay for months on end while our troops in combat are waiting for the funds,” the president said, accusing Democrats of playing politics. “The bottom line is this, Congress’s failure to fund our troops on the front line also mean that some of our military families could wait longer for their loved ones to return from the front lines.”

Think Progress accurately notes that when Congress was under Republican control, it took 86 days to pass the $82 billion 2005 supplemental, and 119 days to pass the $72 billion 2006 supplemental. Also, remember that the president has vowed to veto the supplemental spending plan passed by the House and Senate because it includes a timetable for withdrawal from Iraq, something that polls show the American electorate desires.

“Democrats will send President Bush a bill that gives our troops the resources they need and a strategy in Iraq worthy of their sacrifices,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said in a response issued today. “If the president vetoes this bill he will have delayed funding for troops and kept in place his strategy for failure.”

ADDENDUM @ 3:55 P.M. TUESDAY: The president also today had this to say about the congressional delegation House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco, has led to Damascus, Syria:

“We have made it clear to high-ranking officials, whether they be Republicans or Democrats*, that going to Syria sends mixed signals — signals in the region and, of course, mixed signals to President Assad. And by that, I mean, photo opportunities and/or meetings with President Assad lead the Assad government to believe they’re part of the mainstream of the international community, when, in fact, they’re a state sponsor of terror; when, in fact, they’re helping expedite — or at least not stopping the movement of foreign fighters from Syria into Iraq; when, in fact, they have done little to nothing to rein in militant Hamas and Hezbollah; and when, in fact, they destabilize the Lebanese democracy.

“There have been a lot of people who have gone to see President Assad — some Americans, but a lot of European leaders and high-ranking officials. And yet we haven’t seen action. In other words, he hasn’t responded. It’s one thing to send a message; it’s another thing to have the person receiving the message actually do something. So the position of this administration is that the best way to meet with a leader like Assad or people from Syria is in the larger context of trying to get the global community to help change his behavior. But sending delegations hasn’t worked. It’s just simply been counterproductive.

* It’s not just Pelosi. Before her delegation arrived, three GOP House members — Frank Wolf, R-Va; Robert Aderholt, R-Ala.; and Joe Pitts, R-Pa. — were in Damascus this weekend and met with Syria’s Grand Mufti Ahmad Badr Eddin Hassoun.

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.