April 22, 2007

When it comes to the soon-to-be-vetoed funding bill for the war in Iraq, the White House would have us believe that anything short of a blank check for the president is a vote against the troops. Paul Krugman offers an alternative frame: this is a hostage situation.

There are two ways to describe the confrontation between Congress and the Bush administration over funding for the Iraq surge. You can pretend that it’s a normal political dispute. Or you can see it for what it really is: a hostage situation, in which a beleaguered President Bush, barricaded in the White House, is threatening dire consequences for innocent bystanders — the troops — if his demands aren’t met.

If this were a normal political dispute, Democrats in Congress would clearly hold the upper hand: by a huge margin, Americans say they want a timetable for withdrawal, and by a large margin they also say they trust Congress, not Mr. Bush, to do a better job handling the situation in Iraq.

But this isn’t a normal political dispute. Mr. Bush isn’t really trying to win the argument on the merits. He’s just betting that the people outside the barricade care more than he does about the fate of those innocent bystanders.

Krugman concludes, "Confronting Mr. Bush on Iraq has become a patriotic duty." Truer words were never spoken.

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