Congress sent President Bush a new Iraq funding bill yesterday that lacked troop withdrawal deadlines demanded by liberal Democrats, but party leaders vowed it was only a temporary setback in their efforts to bring home American troops.
War opponents dismissed the bill as a capitulation to Bush and said they would seek to hold supporters in both parties accountable. But backers said the bill's provisions -- including benchmarks for progress that the Iraqi government must meet to continue receiving reconstruction aid -- represented an assertion of congressional authority over the war that was unthinkable a few months ago.
Democratic leaders listened to the wrong lesson. They listened to the Vietnam lesson, which taught them that if they didn't support the war they would be tarred by Republicans as weak on national security. They should have listened to the lesson on principles, learned the hard way by John Kerry in the last election and still being learned by Democratic presidential candidates trying to explain why they didn't stand up to Bush on the war before the whole travesty got underway.