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Obama Backing Down, Reid and Feingold Stepping Up

April 2, 2007 - by Donny Shaw

To get a sense of the interweaving narratives currently playing out with the Congress-approved Iraq funding and troop withdrawal bill and President Bush’s threatened veto, take a look at the titles of the most recent sequence of AP articles categorized under “Congress”:

  1. Senate Democrats Vow to Push Withdrawal 1 Apr. 12:38:15

  2. Obama Says Congress Will Fund Iraq War 1 Apr. 16:02:02

  3. McConnell Wants Quick Action on Iraq 2 Apr. 00:18:17

Each one of these articles rehashes some material from the others. Barack Obama’s (D-IL) declaration that Congress will not “play chicken with the troops” appears as a side note in the first article, but is the focus of the next article. Also, Mitch McConnell’s (R-KY) statement that the “bill is not salvageable,” is mentioned in the first article, and it comes back the next day as the focus of the third article.

So, the AP is not really reporting new news with each subsequent article about this issue. Instead, they are creating a narrative by reframing and retitling the same basic story, and putting the variations in a neatly unfolding sequence. The story, as they tell it on the most basic level, goes like this: Democrats were sticking together, pushing for a troop withdrawal, until Obama suggested that they would fund the war regardless of whether the withdrawal timetable was approved or not. With Obama revealing that Democrats are not fully united on the issue, Minority Leader McConnell began calling for the Democrats to cave in quickly and move on to approving the clean war funding bill that the President wants.

Of course, if you read the full articles, you see that things are not unfolding quite that neatly. However, the main point that Obama provided a foothold for Republicans and the President, is being maintained by liberal and conservative blogs. In case you don’t have time to read the article, here is the central point:

>If President Bush vetoes an Iraq war spending bill as promised, Congress quickly will provide the money without the withdrawal timeline the White House objects to because no lawmaker “wants to play chicken with our troops,” Sen. Barack Obama said Sunday.

Here’s how Daily Kos responded:

>What a ridiculous thing to say. Not only is it bad policy, not only is it bad politics, it’s also a terrible negotiating approach.
>Instead of threatening Bush with even more restrictions and daring him to veto funding for the troops out of pique, Barack just surrendered to him.
>Let me repeat that — Obama just surrendered to Bush.

My DD also has several interesting articles about Obama’s statement, particularly this one about the “playing-chicken meme.”

Hang Right Politics claims that Obama “surrendered to Bush” for his presidential campaign:

>This is a brilliant move by Obama. He has effectively taken both positions. He’ll discover what Margaret Thatcher discovered, “walking in the middle of the road you get hit on both sides”, but in the end this statement will work for him. He has calmed the fears of the remaining democrat rational thinkers and he has tacitly acknowledged that the poll numbers are not on their side for a repeat of the Vietnam scenario, no matter how much enjoyment the left would get from that re-enactment down to the spittal on soldiers’ uniforms.
>Expect a crucifixion in Kos. That might be good news for Obama as well. He can acquire the image of moderate without changing or hiding his votes which place him to the left of Karl Marx.

Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Senator Richard Feingold (D-WI) are <a href=
“”target="_blank">preparing a bill to end funding for the war on March 31, 2008. If the President vetoes the current supplemental and Democrats pass a “clean” version, the Reid-Feingold bill will be brought to a vote in the Senate as the next step of the Democrats’ opposition to the war.

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  • Anonymous 04/02/2007 1:16pm

    I think this is a case of the media making up their own version of the story. Obama has always been against the war, which is why he has my support. And though I haven’t read the Feingold/Reid bill, I wonder how it is different than the bill Obama introduced in January? As Obama said on Saturday “We should be as careful pulling our troops out as we were careless going in.”

  • Anonymous 04/02/2007 2:41pm

    All Senator Obama is saying, if you had watched his video stream on the 31st, is that they would not leave the troops that are there without the things they need. Which does not go against his opposition for the surge or the war, but no one in their right mind would leave the troops without the money to have bullets and food. Get real.

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