The disconnect

The American people want a timetable for bringing the troops home. They're not going to get it.

Published May 10, 2007 4:13PM (EDT)

Republican Sen. Jim DeMint said Wednesday that "the media and many of our Democrat colleagues have misjudged the American people on the Iraq war." "The American people," DeMint explained, "are not against the war. They're against losing the war."

In a CNN poll conducted last week, Americans were asked: "Do you favor or oppose the U.S. war in Iraq?" Sixty-five percent chose "oppose." Only 35 percent chose "support."

Anyone think there's a disconnect here?

A group of moderate Republicans may have pierced the president's bubble on the way for a moment this week, but the net result of the wrangling over Iraq is inevitably going to be some kind of extension of the status quo: One way or another, Congress is going to provide additional funding to maintain the "surge" in Baghdad and defer to some other day -- July 2007, September 2007, April 2008 or January 2009 -- any real decision on bringing the troops home.

That's not what the American people want -- in a USA Today/Gallup poll released earlier this month, 59 percent of Americans said they'd like the United States "to set a timetable for removing troops from Iraq and to stick to that timetable regardless of what is going on in Iraq at the time" -- but it's what the American people are going to get.

As a concession to antiwar members who want a clear up-or-down vote on bringing the troops home, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will allow a vote today on a measure that would require the redeployment of all U.S. troops to begin within 90 days and to be completed within 180 days. After that measure fails -- it will -- the House will take up Rep. David Obey's bifurcated funding bill: The president gets some of the money he wants for funding the war now but has to come back in July for the rest.

That bill may make it out of the House, but the White House is already promising a veto, and it probably won't survive the Senate, where Democratic Sen. Evan Bayh and Republican Sen. Olympia Snowe are introducing their own compromise today. Their bill would set a series of benchmarks for the Iraqi government -- disarming militias, establishing a plan for sharing oil revenues, addressing minority concerns, etc. -- and then require Gen. David Petraeus to report to Congress in 120 days as to whether the Iraqis have met them. If the Iraqis haven't met the benchmarks, the Bayh-Snowe bill would require Petraeus to return to Congress within 14 days with a plan for the phased redeployment of the "surge" troops plus a "change in mission for all the other troops, consistent with the stated objectives that were set forth in the Iraq Study Group plan."

By Tim Grieve

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

MORE FROM Tim Grieve

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

Iraq War War Room