The way forward?

Bush meets with congressional leaders on Iraq.

Published April 19, 2007 12:53PM (EDT)

If this is the picture of a "polite" and "productive" meeting, then we'll believe the aides to George W. Bush, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid when they say that's what their bosses had Wednesday on the subject of Iraq.

In fact, it sounds like the meeting was only marginally polite, and we're not sure we can think of any sense in which it was productive.

The House and the Senate have both approved "emergency" supplemental war funding bills that include timelines for withdrawal from Iraq. The House-approved timeline is binding; the Senate's isn't. At Wednesday's meeting, Pelosi apparently signaled a willingness to make the House timeline advisory, but that didn't get her anywhere with the president. Bush has said that he'll veto any version of the spending bill that contains a timeline, and the White House made it perfectly clear before Wednesday's meeting that he wasn't going to back down from that position. He didn't.

After the meeting ended, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell explained that Bush "is not going to accept language that specifies a date for surrender or language that micromanages the efforts of our military in Iraq." House Minority Leader John Boehner was even more blunt. Asked whether anything had changed as a result of the meeting, he said: "No."

By Tim Grieve

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

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George W. Bush Iraq War Nancy Pelosi D-calif.