To the surprise of exactly no one, George W. Bush this evening vetoed Congress' plan to bring American troops home from Iraq. "I recognize that many Democrats saw this bill as an opportunity to make a political statement about their opposition to the war," the president said. "They've sent their message. And now it is time to put politics behind us and support our troops with the funds they need."
Message: I don't care.
Either that, or maybe the president is just taking his cues from Fox News. We tuned in to Fox for a few minutes this afternoon before the president's veto, and we heard a lot of talk about how Democrats -- and especially Democratic presidential candidates -- are calling for a troop withdrawal because they need to "pander" to "that element" of their party in advance of the 2008 elections. When we turned off the TV, we checked the latest polling on Iraq. Sixty-four percent of Americans want the U.S. to set a timetable for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq. If that's an "element" of a political party, the Democrats should consider themselves lucky. It sounds like a rather large majority of the American public to us, a majority whose views the president continues to dismiss out of hand.
If it's any consolation, a majority of Americans are dismissing him now, too. By a 22-point margin, Americans say that Congress, not the president, should have the final say on troop levels in Iraq. By a 71-24 percent margin, Americans say they disapprove of the way Bush is handling the war.
The president complained today that the bill Congress sent him would have imposed "a rigid and artificial deadline for American troops to begin withdrawing from Iraq ... regardless of the situation on the ground." Later, he complained that the lack of a bill he'd be willing to sign adds to "the uncertainty felt by our military families." We're not sure how he can have it both ways, but on this point we'll certainly agree with him: "Our troops and their families deserve better -- and their elected leaders can do better."