Reid called the benchmark language "extremely weak," but noted that Bush had initially demanded a bill with no strings attached. "For heaven's sake, look where we've come," Reid said. "It's a lot more than the president ever expected he'd have to agree to."Some Democrats will try to argue that this is Bush's war, but it isn't. It's our war. And it became their responsibility the day they took over their majorities in the House and Senate. They've succeeded in drafting a bill that Bill Frist would be proud of, and openly argue that they are powerless to do more than rubber stamp the president's request. That's not what they were elected for and they're foolish if they think they'll get any credit for wringing their hands on the sidelines while the situation worsens.
They’ve guaranteed that instead of resolving this question, now, we’ll be having this debate all over again in September, at which point Bush will again promise to veto any restrictions the Congress tries to set. And of course, he’ll have every reason to believe that he’ll be successful.
"Some will say no, some will say yes," the official involved in the negotiations said of rank and file Democrats. "It's not a perfect bill. Nobody got what they wanted. But it is the beginning of the end of George W. Bush's policy in Iraq."One person got exactly what he wanted. He's declared that he listens to nobody and you've proven he doesn't have to.
Update: According to Jerome Armstrong, Reid was handicapped by the defections of the two Republican Senators, Hagel and Smith, leaving him with only 48 votes for the withdrawal language. If true, it's yet another case of Republican Senators caving in to the president despite their public appeals for a change of course.