President Bush will meet today with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) to discuss Congress’ Iraq withdrawal legislation. Bush has spent the last several weeks driving home three misleading talking points justifying his intent to veto this bill over the wishes of the American public. To aid his efforts, Bush turned to some reliable crutches: in his latest Iraq speech on Monday, Bush repeatedly referenced September 11th and conjured dark visions of “death and destruction here in America” if U.S. troops were to withdraw. The result: more people oppose Bush’s position, and support a safe and responsible end to the war, than they did two months ago. The more the president speaks, the more isolated he becomes. Behold Bush’s new bubble.
- New evidence continues to show that President Bush’s escalation policy is not working. Last month “marked the first time that the U.S. military suffered four straight months of 80 or more fatalities,” McClatchy news reported. “April, with 58 service members killed through Monday, is on pace to be one of the deadliest months of the conflict for American forces.” Iraqi civilian casualties across the country rose 10 percent from February to March. Iraq’s political benchmarks are not being met; the latest Brookings Institution Iraq index, released two days ago, finds “no progress thus far” on reversing de-Baathification, scheduling provincial elections, drafting a plan for national reconciliation, amending the constitution, or reaching a political agreement on disbanding the militias. A Red Cross report issued last week said the “disastrous” situation in Iraq is “getting worse, with mothers appealing for someone to pick up the bodies on the street so their children will be spared the horror of looking at them on their way to school.” (Center for American Progress senior fellow Lawrence Korb returned this weekend from a 10-day visit to Baghdad and uncovered results that only affirm that “the surge is not working.” Read his full trip diary.)
- The debate on redeploying the troops sends the right message to the Iraqi people and government. Defense Secretary Robert Gates yesterday affirmed a core element of war critics’ strategy, that the prospect of redeployment offers our best tool for motivating the Iraqi government. Speaking during a Middle East tour, Gates said the debate in Congress “has been helpful in demonstrating to the Iraqis that American patience is limited. The strong feelings expressed in the Congress about the timetable probably has had a positive impact…in terms of communicating to the Iraqis that this is not an open-ended commitment.” Last year, President Bush sent the exact opposite message to Americans. “Artificial timetable for withdrawal sends the wrong message to the Iraqis, they’re seeing it’s not worth it,” Bush said. “Artificial timetable for withdrawal…sends the message to the enemy, we were right about America. That’s what they said. Al Qaeda has said it’s just a matter of time before America withdraws. They’re weak, they’re corrupt, they can’t stand it, and they’ll withdraw. And all that would do is confirm what the enemy thinks.” The Center for American Progress Action Fund has sent a memo to Congress detailing four courses of action following the President’s expected veto.