Obama has explained his weekend words to the AP, and sorry to say, you Obama fans, but it's no better than before.
In a telephone interview this afternoon during the Illinois senator's latest New Hampshire campaign swing, Obama said he has not backed down. But he said that neither he nor “the vast majority of Democrats” are interested in cutting funding for troops in the field.
He said that after a veto, Congress should “keep on ratcheting up the pressure to try to make the President see we’re on the wrong course and have him respond to Congress and the American people.”
Obama said that since there are not enough in the House or Senate votes to override a veto, “My object at that point would be explore passing a new version that also has some sort of constraints on the President’s actions.”
He said it would be unacceptable for Congress “to fold up tent because the President vetoed the bill.”
First of all, he's talking about sending Bush a weaker bill, not the same or a stronger one.
Two, he's saying that if Bush vetoes the Iraq supplemental, and Congress doesn't send him some watered-down version, then it's Congress' fault the troops aren't getting funded.
He's so afraid of being accused of cutting off the troops, that he's incapable of making the rather obvious point that 1) Congress has fully funded Bush's war, and 2) it's Bush's veto that would cut off the troops.
Does this make Obama a non-starter for my primary vote in 2008? Nah. But it is an important data point.
Obama has blown the framing battle and undermined the Democratic leadership's bargaining position on the existing Iraq Supplemental. All because he's too afraid to point out that Bush's veto would cut off funding for the troops, not Congressional action.
It's not his finest moment.
You Obama people who are frothing at the mouth at the notion that anyone might criticize your golden boy -- you're not doing your guy any favors. No more so than obnoxious Edwards supporters, or obnoxious anyone-else supporters. Your guy screwed up here. If you think it's okay to undermine the Democrats' negotiating position because he fears being labeled a troop hater (by who, Fox News?), then that's your prerogative.
But just imagine if this was Hillary saying these things. You'd be demanding her head on a pike, and so would I. So quit the double standard.
p.s. No, separate legislation isn't the best way to make this happen. Bush HAS to sign some sort of Iraq supplemental if he wants his war to continue past this summer. He can veto any standalone legislation to his hearts content. And yeah, politically, those extra vetoes will be great and help us pick up more seats in 2008, so I heartily endorse continued congressional action to clearly define the differences on Iraq between our party and theirs. But here we have a chance to bundle some real accountability in a bill that Bush must eventually sign. There was no reason to surrender so quickly.
Update: Those of you complaining that the press is mis-reporting Obama (based on nothing but faith, apparently) -- if only Obama had a way to get his voice out unfiltered to the public. If only he had something, like, maybe, a Web-Site, and on that Web-Site, if only he had something like a, well, a Web-Log.
If only he had those things, then he wouldn't be at the mercy of reporters and editors.
Alas, he's apparently at the mercy of the media.