The Plank

The Deflating Showdown

By and

There's a lot of hullabaloo over a forthcoming nasty constitutional showdown between Bush and congressional Democrats over the war supplemental, but it still may never get to that, with key anti-war Democrats acknowledging that they're likely to back down on the withdrawal deadline and Bush recognizing their constitutional right not to budge. Here's Armed Services chair Carl Levin (as reported in the Post):

Senate Armed Services Chairman Carl M. Levin (D-Mich.) acknowledged that an override is unlikely, but said Democratic leaders are considering other ways to force a change of course in Iraq. One option, Levin said on "Fox News Sunday," is to include the Iraqi government benchmarks that the White House established for reducing sectarian violence and building a democratic governing and political system. As an alternative to withdrawal terms that Bush is sure to veto, Levin said Congress could spell out consequences, should the Iraqi government keep falling short. "Those benchmarks would hopefully have some teeth in them ..." Levin said.

... and Bush:

Asked at a recent news conference about congressional war powers, Bush seemed to suggest that while he disagrees with efforts to set a timetable for withdrawal, lawmakers are within their constitutional rights to do so. "The Congress is exercising its legitimate authority as it sees fit right now," Bush said.

Dispiritingly, the Post story suggests that Bush may have appeared to recognize Congress's "legitimate" authority to help manage the war because he was confused, not because he really believes in it.

--Eve Fairbanks

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