A meeting with the president

Is it an invitation or a summons?

Published April 10, 2007 6:18PM (EDT)

George W. Bush said today that he's inviting congressional leaders from both parties to meet with him at the White House next week on the "emergency" supplemental spending bill for the Iraq war.

The point of the meeting? Window dressing for a president who needs to look reasonable even as he ignores the will of Congress and the will of the American people.

Although the White House has been beating up on Democrats daily over their "delay" in providing him a "clean" war funding bill, it's worth noting that Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi asked Bush for a meeting about the matter nearly two weeks ago. "Mr. President," they wrote in a March 28 letter to Bush, "this is the time to sit down and work together on behalf of the American people and our troops. We stand ready to work with you, but your threats to veto a bill that has not even been presented to you indicate that you may not be ready to work with us."

He still isn't. In his speech at a Virginia American Legion post today, the president said he wants to talk with congressional leaders so that they can "report on progress on getting an emergency spending bill to my desk ... a clean bill, a bill that funds our troops without artificial timetables for withdrawal, and without handcuffing our generals on the ground." Translation: He'll have a meeting to tell them -- the representatives of a co-equal branch of government -- to do things the way he wants them done.

Reid says there's no point in meeting so long as the president is unwilling to negotiate with the timetable-supporting majorities in Congress. "We are speaking for the American people," Reid said. "He isn't."

Asked about Reid's comments at the White House press briefing today, Bush spokeswoman Dana Perino claimed to be bewildered. "I'm not quite sure I can understand why he so out of hand rejects the president's offer to meet," she said. "It was a knee-jerk reaction. It was quite unfortunate. The invitation stands. We would like for them to come down and talk with us."

OK, but talk about what?

"This is not a meeting in order to compromise," Perino said. "This is a meeting to discuss the way forward."

By Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

MORE FROM Tim Grieve

Related Topics ------------------------------------------

George W. Bush Harry Reid Iraq War War Room