Playing chicken

The deal isn't done quite yet, but Democrats -- or at least some of them -- appear to be ready to blink on Iraq.

Published May 22, 2007 8:47PM (EDT)

Democrats in Congress said they wanted a timeline for bringing the troops home from Iraq. The president said he wouldn't sign a war-funding bill without one. Somebody has to back down someday, and see if you can guess who it's going to be.

The deal isn't done yet, but Democrats -- or, at least, enough of them -- are clearly headed toward giving George W. Bush more money for the war in Iraq with no requirement that he bring it to a close. "We don't have a veto-proof Congress," says Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. "The president has made it very clear that he is not going to sign timelines," says House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer. "We can't pass timelines over his veto."

That's true. But isn't it also true that Bush can't get his war funding without timelines unless Democrats give him a bill that disconnects the two? It is -- but only in the as-yet-imaginary world in which congressional Democrats aren't the ones who blink first.

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 Harry Reid Iraq War Steny Hoyer D-md.