Blankley: Don’t Count On Obama To Take Out Hillary

Tony Blankley, the editor of the Washington Times, warns Republicans to get their act together now if they expect to defeat Hillary Clinton in 2008 for the White House. The Bush administration has begun playing into her one strength — competence — and the Republicans cannot rely on Barack Obama or John Edwards to stop her march to the Oval Office:

With every passing week it becomes more likely that Hillary Clinton will be the Democratic Party nominee for president. This thought, alone, should provide the strongest possible motivation to the Bush administration and the Washington Republicans to get their acts together so that the eventual Republican nominee for president doesn’t start the general election campaign in too deep a hole.
The polls that show half the country saying they won’t vote for Hillary should be discounted. At the election, the choice will not be Hillary or not Hillary — it will be Hillary or someone else. And that is what the campaign is about. …
Moreover, Hillary’s strengths are not yet as appreciated as they will be. Don’t get me wrong, personally I find her and her candidacy detestable as the worst form of unprincipled, ruthless, nihilistic, mud-throwing demagogic politics. But for the Democratic Party electorate (and some Independents and soft Republicans) her apparent strengths will become more persuasive. Currently she suffers by the media’s focus on her lack of spontaneity, charm or pleasant voice — particularly when compared with Obama and, to some extent, Edwards.
But charm is not the only path to the American voter. Richard Milhous Nixon won more national elections than any politician in our history (two vice presidents, three presidential nominations and two presidencies — three if you count the stolen 1960 election against Kennedy). He didn’t have any charm — but he was smart, shrewd, highly political, hard working and ruthless. Sometimes the voters are looking for what they think is competence rather than a love affair.

It’s an interesting argument, but not quite convincing. The Bush administration’s recent troubles have created a competence issue, one that the Democrats exploited to some extent in 2006 and on which they hope to expand in 2008. The continuing saga at Justice has made that easy for the Democrats, and we still have nineteen months to go.
However, Hillary isn’t exactly the poster girl for competence, either. More than one of the scandals in the Clinton administration revolved around her, such as the Travel Office debacle in which the White House attempted to gin up criminal charges against staffers there in order to fill their slots with political cronies — something far worse than what anyone suggests happened at Justice. The Rose law-firm records of her work disappeared for a time, only to reappear in the White House itself, all without her knowledge. And focusing strictly on competence, her work on the nationalization of the health-care industry helped the Republicans win control of Congress in 1994.
Blankley hits the mark with Barack Obama and John Edwards, though. Like I wrote last night, Obama doesn’t have the seasoning to determine the level of his competence. All he has is the “ludicrously enthusiastic media launch” and an undeniable charm at the podium. When pressed for policy specifics, he comes up empty except for a promise to conduct a different sort of politics. Edwards has a firmer grasp on policy, but at the moment serves Hillary’s purpose of splitting her antagonists among the base. One of these men will likely become her running mate, if she wins the nomination.
But to me, that’s a bigger if now than before. Hillary has not campaigned well, and her negatives have become too plain to ignore. She’s nowhere near as charming as her husband, who turns out to be a liability for Hillary because of the comparison. Her Iraq vote caused her to stumble through some rhetorical twists than can only be called Clintonian, and she now wants to run on a repeat of her health-care debacle. She has all of Bill’s slickness and none of the salesmanship that allowed him to get away with it.
And meanwhile, the very substantial Bill Richardson lies waiting on the perimeter, looking for an opening to claim that mantle of competence and experience from all three Democratic frontrunners.

And Five Years Later …

Despite its insistence on curtailing political speech five years ago yesterday by passing the McCain-Feingold bill to remove corruption from politics, the Senate has never forced itself to adopt more effective measures to expose venality by its own members. While the House adopted electronic filing measures to disclose campaign contributions on an ongoing basis, the Senate has preferred the slow and impenetrable process of quarterly written statements — which curious investigators see far too late to expose any shenanigans. Thad Cochran and Russ Feingold want to change that, and the Washington Post agrees that the effort comes late in the game:

TODAY AT 10 a.m., the U.S. Senate could take its first step into the 21st century when the Rules and Administration Committee meets to vote on a measure that would require candidates for the Senate to file their campaign finance reports electronically. That’s great news for a voting public that ought to be able to see immediately who’s giving to whom and how the money is being spent. Of course, this issue being at the crossroads of politics and money, the prospects of something so simple being passed today are anything but simple.
All that sponsors Russell Feingold (D-Wis.) and Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) wanted to do was bring to the Senate the common-sense advance that for years has been standard operating procedure for candidates for the House of Representatives and the White House and for political parties, “527” groups and PACs. Electronic filing for Senate candidates would eliminate the so-last-century practice of filing papers with the Senate Office of Public Records, which then scans and sends them to the Federal Election Commission, which then sends them out to a vendor, which keys the information into an electronic database and sends it back to the FEC in its new form.

Sounds great, huh? The Senate, five years after passing the most cynical incumbent-protection legislation ever, will finally get around to allowing timely exposure of who contributes to the incumbent campaigns. Except that they may not; as the Post notes, the vote requires a quorum of the Rules and Administration Committee, which has 19 members. If they don’t get 10 of the members to show up for the vote, the proposal will wither on the vine.
Also, the committee has to deal with an amendment by Bob Bennett (R-UT) that will also prove controversial. Bennett wants to remove the limitations on party spending in coordination with candidates. That would put a hole in the BCRA wall against the use of soft money, a Byzantine structure that still enjoys some support as a bulwark against corruption — for reasons no one can explain rationally. Bennett may have a good idea, but it doesn’t really help to attach it to this legislation. We need this bill to pass on its own and make its way to a floor vote. It’s five years overdue already.
If you want to make sure that the committee has its quorum, be sure to make wake-up calls to these R&A panel members. Note, please, the number of party leaders who sit on this committee:
Dianne Feinstein
Bob Bennett
Robert Byrd
Daniel Inouye
Ted Stevens
Mitch McConnell
Christopher Dodd
Thad Cochran
Chuck Schumer
Trent Lott
Dick Durbin
Kay Bailey Hutchinson
Ben Nelson
Saxby Chambliss
Harry Reid
Chuck Hagel
Patty Murray
Lamar Alexander
Mark Pryor
You can reach the Senate switchboard at 202-224-3121, and ask for the Senator whom you wish to contact.

The Flexible Loyalty Of Jim Webb

The case of the loaded gun got a little stranger yesterday after Senator Jim Webb spoke to reporters about the incident. His senior aide, Phillip Thompson, had just spent his 45th birthday being arraigned for carrying what Thompson claimed was Webb’s gun through a Capitol Hill security checkpoint. However, while Webb charmed the press corps with his explanation for why he violates District of Columbia gun laws, he made it clear that Thompson can expect no public support for his assistance in doing so:

The complaint laid out Thompson’s version of events: “The defendant stated that he was in possession of a pistol and two magazines belonging to Senator Jim Webb. The defendant further stated that he inadvertently left the gun that he was safekeeping from the previous days.” Webb may be pleased to know that, according to the complaint, “the weapon was test fired and is operable.”
And how does Webb feel about the whole thing? Hard to say. Gardiner wouldn’t say who had retained him to represent Thompson. Webb himself, after calling the news conference to discuss the matter, then said he couldn’t talk about it. …
The senator was less forthcoming in his defense of Thompson. “He is going to be arraigned today,” Webb said. “I do not in any way want to prejudice his case and the situation that he’s involved in.”
Prejudice the case? But wasn’t it Webb’s gun that his aide was carrying for him?
Webb wouldn’t even acknowledge it was his gun. “I have never carried a gun in the Capitol complex, and I did not give the weapon to Phillip Thompson,” he stipulated.
Webb had kind words for his aide — “a longtime friend” and “a fine individual” — but he seemed to be trying to cut Thompson loose as he spoke of the incident. “I find that what has happened with Phillip Thompson is enormously unfortunate,” Webb reported. “I was in New Orleans from last Friday until yesterday evening. I was not in town. I learned about this when I was in New Orleans.”

Given Jim Webb’s predilection for carrying weapons and the unlikelihood of Thompson’s desire to go postal on Capitol Hill, it’s reasonable to assume that Thompson did what he said — he carried his boss’ bags to drop them in the office, without knowing or remembering about the weapon. Why can’t Webb just admit that much? It doesn’t make Webb culpable in any way — as he made sure to point out, he has an alibi. It at least doesn’t make Thompson look like a liar within hours of making bail.
Webb put on quite a bizarre little show. He staunchly defended the Second Amendment, something that even some Republicans won’t do these days, and insisted that he needed to carry concealed weapons because of his stature. He noted that Presidents get Secret Service protection but not Senators or Congressmen, which is true, but not really terribly germane. Congress could create that kind of protection service for itself, or fund it through the Secret Service. Webb also refused to state whether he violates DC law, which requires registration which Webb apparently does not have for his weapons.
And while Webb waxed loquacious about his personal need for security, he never mentioned any effort on his part to allow other DC residents the right to make the same decision about their own safety, even though the GOP had offered an amendment to allow them to do just that last week.
Meanwhile, Webb’s trusted aide, who inadvertently carried Webb’s security plan into the Russell building on Monday, had to make bail just after Webb made sure to give reporters his alibi and refused to state whether the gun was his. So much for loyalty.

Now They Complain Of Overcrowding

You can never win. First critics said the surge would never work. Now that US and Iraqi forces have started rounding up terror suspects by the hundreds as a result of the improved security plan, the critics now complain that we’ve captured too many:

Hundreds of Iraqis detained in the Baghdad security crackdown have been crammed into two detention centers run by the Defense Ministry that were designed to hold only dozens of people, a government monitoring group said Tuesday.
The numbers suggested that the security plan’s emphasis on aggressive block-by-block sweeps of troubled neighborhoods in the capital had flooded Iraq’s frail detention system, and appeared to confirm the fears of some human rights advocates who have been predicting that the new plan would aggravate already poor conditions. …
In one of the detention centers, in the town of Mahmudiya, south of Baghdad, 705 people were packed into an area built for 75, according to Maan Zeki Khadum, an official with the monitoring group. The other center, on Muthana Air Base, held 272 people in a space designed to hold about 50, he said, and included two women and four boys who were being held in violation of regulations that require juveniles to be separated from adults and males from females.
In an interview, Mr. Khadum said a majority of the detainees at the two detention centers had been picked up while the security plan, which began in mid-February, was being put into effect.
He said the detention system had been suffering from a problem of “fast detention and very slow release, especially for those who are not guilty.” His group includes 17 lawyers and is working under a government committee run by the Shiite politician Ahmad Chalabi.

Especially for those not guilty”? Of course we do not want to detain the innocent, but we don’t need to release real terrorists at all. Slow release, grinding down to none at all, should suit everyone just fine for the latter. That’s why the US and Iraqis need to work on a competent process to review the data for those seized, but a lack of speed in that process is hardly an excuse for not capturing terrorists at all.
For a security plan that wouldn’t work, it didn’t take long for complaints of overcrowding to get made publicly. We need to find room for more detainees, because if the surge continues to fail in this fashion, we’re going to have many more terrorists to house very soon.

Public Smoking Ban Passes State Senate

Yesterday, a family member came in from California to spend some time with the First Mate before her transplant on Friday. When she made the plan, we had assumed that the FM would be home until Thursday evening, but as it turns out, the doctors wanted her in the hospital for the entire week in order to keep her blood pressure under close observation. I took our visitor to dinner, and when we were asked by the hostess whether we wanted to sit in smoking or non-smoking, the Californian expressed surprise that Minnesota still allowed businesses to have smoking sections.
As it turns out, she just came out a few weeks too early. The state Senate passed its version of a statewide public smoking ban yesterday, one of the first significant acts to come out of the enhanced DFL (Democratic) majority:

The Minnesota Senate voted 41-24 on Tuesday to approve a sweeping, statewide smoking ban that would eliminate most indoor smoking in public places, including bars and restaurants, beginning Aug. 1.
The bill prohibits smoking in public places, aboard public transportation and at public meetings. Violations would be petty misdemeanors.
The measure allows bars, restaurants and bingo halls to build outdoor smoking patios. Electricity and heating would be allowed on the patios but not food or beverage service.

When California passed its smoking ban years ago, I didn’t think too much about it. I had stopped smoking cigarettes by that time, and even when I did smoke, I found bars and bowling alleys to be so drenched in smoke that I had quit patronizing them long before. Some friends complained about being inconvenienced, but I didn’t have much sympathy. Frankly, I enjoyed going to restaurants and other public accommodations without coming home smelling like an ashtray.
A statewide ban makes more sense than what Minnesota has done before now. Several cities and communities have passed similar bans, such as Saint Paul. Bar owners and restauranteurs have reported stark decreases in business as a result, because their smoking customers simply go to another community for their entertainment. A statewide ban would eliminate that problem, except on border communities like Stillwater and Duluth, for instance.
However, I am no longer so sanguine about these laws. It seems to me that a business owner should be able to set his own rules about the custom he wants, and if he or she doesn’t mind smokers in the establishment, the state should not tell them any different. If the state has a great untapped consumer pool of people like me who would hang out in bars every night if it weren’t for those darned smokers, bars that banned smoking would pull in good business. That has not been the case, and even it if was, those owners who don’t mind smokers would still have the right to serve them.
No one doubts that the proponents of these bans have their hearts in the right place, but it opens a troubling precedent. Once we establish that the state has an interest which overrides two key rights — the right to assemble and the right to private property — just to modify personal behavior that the state considers unhealthy, where will they stop? Will Minnesota, like New York City, attempt to ban trans-fats from restaurants? Will we have two-drink limits at bars as well?
Smoking cigarettes is unhealthy and foolish. I was fortunate enough to give them up without too much trouble, and I only smoke a cigar about once or twice a year these days. However, unless the state wants to criminalize tobacco, then it really has no business dictating to bar owners and restauranteurs that they cannot serve smokers, even outside in a patio area.
UPDATE: I should credit Chad the Elder and Brian Ward from Fraters Libertas for helping me change my mind on this issue. We have had several debates on this over the past few years, and they have been very convincing.

Reid Scores A Victory On Iraq By Backing Defeat

Harry Reid won his most important victory as Senate Majority Leader today by unexpectedly passing the supplemental spending bill for Iraq with the mandatory timetables for withdrawal within 12 months. Two Senators, Ben Nelson and Chuck Hagel, reversed their stand on the automatic withdrawal from less than two weeks ago, when the Senate last considered it:

Senate Democrats scored a surprise victory yesterday in their bid to force President Bush to end the Iraq war, turning back a Republican amendment that would have struck a troop withdrawal plan from emergency military funding legislation.
The defection of a prominent Republican war critic, Sen. Chuck Hagel of Nebraska, sealed the Democrats’ win. Hagel, who opposed identical withdrawal language two weeks ago, walked onto the Senate floor an hour before the late-afternoon vote and announced that he would “not support sustaining a flawed and failing policy,” adding: “It’s now time for the Congress to step forward and establish responsible boundaries and conditions for our continued military involvement in Iraq.”
Democratic leaders think the 50 to 48 victory greatly strengthens their negotiating position as they prepare to face down a White House that yesterday reiterated its threat of a presidential veto. The Senate vote was also the first time since Democrats took control of Congress in January that a majority of lawmakers have supported binding legislation to bring U.S. troops home.
The Senate withdrawal provision, which sets a March 31, 2008, target for ending U.S. combat operations, is tucked into a $122 billion package to fund operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, a must-pass bill that Democrats view as their best shot at forcing Bush to change direction. The withdrawal language was nearly identical to that of a Senate resolution rejected 50 to 48 two weeks ago.

At least we have a clear statement from the Democratic majority in Congress. They have declared defeat while we still fight in Iraq, and they spent over $20 billion in pork to make that declaration stick. They still want to make Bush responsible for the withdrawal, but they’ve quit trying to cover their tracks with clever tricks about readiness definitions to do so.
I could go on and on about the many stupidities in this approach, but it won’t do much good. We can talk about how giving timetables only emboldens the enemy to persevere and to keep their powder dry. I could point out the folly of having a rump force remain behind to fight only al-Qaeda — as if they wear uniforms and our troops have the time to determine whether AQI or native insurgents are attacking them before responding. We’ve done all of that many times before, and yet the Democrats insist that their approach is the most reasonable.
What next? The President will definitely veto this bill, and the Democrats do not have anywhere near the votes needed to override. That means that Congress and the White House will have to reach some sort of compromise, or else theoretically allow the troops to remain in Iraq but without the funds to either fight or come home. If the President doesn’t veto it, he has to start retreating in four months, to which he will not willingly assent. It will take weeks to unravel, and in that time I believe that Congress will work on a much smaller supplemental to keep funding going while the negotiations ensue. Reid, however, wants to wait until after the spring recess to start even on the conference committee talks, which will drag out the event even further.
Undoubtedly, Reid won big by declaring defeat. No one really expected this to pass, but Reid managed to talk Hagel and Nelson into reversing themselves, when even the ladies from Maine remained steadfast. He and Nancy Pelosi made it clear that the last election had its consequences, even if it took them several variations on the defeatist theme to do so.
One thing is certain: Chuck Hagel can skip the exploratory committee for the 2008 race.

Punching Above His Weight

The AP wonders whether the Barack Obama boomlet has run its course. According to political reporter Nedra Pickler, Democrats have been wondering where the beef is, too:

The voices are growing louder asking the question: Is Barack Obama all style and little substance?
The freshman Illinois senator began his campaign facing the perception that he lacks the experience to be president, especially compared to rivals with decades of work on foreign and domestic policy. So far, he’s done little to challenge it. He’s delivered no policy speeches and provided few details about how he would lead the country. …
The differences were on display Saturday in Las Vegas, where the Democratic candidates answered questions about health care.
Former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards, the only other candidate to serve less time in elective office than Obama, described in detail his health care plan to provide insurance for all Americans. New York Sen. Hillary Clinton doesn’t have a written plan yet, but no one questions her expertise, since she was the chief proponent of the issue during her husband’s presidency. …
David Peter, a child support case worker and member of the SEIU in Las Vegas who was also in the audience, said Obama may have been better off not participating in the forum. Peter is a local organizer for anti-war candidate Dennis Kucinich, but said he was impressed with Clinton’s health care plan and disappointed in Obama.
“He wasn’t prepared for it,” Peter said. “I saw him speak here about a month ago and it was on his issues and just on sort of introducing himself to the people and I thought he was much better on that speech than he was in this forum.”

What a shock! The candidate with an entire two years of experience in national office turns out to be a policy lightweight. Who’d a-thunk it? It had to hurt that Obama got compared to John Edwards, widely considered an empty suit himself, and found wanting.
In 1984, Walter Mondale flummoxed Gary Hart by asking, “Where’s the beef?” when debating the issues. Hart had a habit of speaking in nonspecifics, and Mondale rightly pinned him down on his inability to give specifics on his policy initiatives. Of course, Hart had been in office for over nine years at that point, unlike Obama, who has more of an excuse for his superficiality on policy.
I’m not even certain he wanted to run in this cycle; he may be a lightweight, but he’s not stupid. Obama has to know that his thin experience would not generate confidence in his ability to lead the nation. Obama would do better to finish his term in the Senate and then win the governorship in Illinois, coming back in 2016 for the nomination a much stronger candidate — and still at the young age of 54.
The more Obama campaigns and the veneer wears off, the more people will understand him to be a neophyte. Those of us who can count already knew this. For those who failed to realize that a two-year track record would reveal inexperience and a lack of depth, I award the Captain Louis Renault award. Shocked, shocked they must be who find Obama and his focus on “new politics” to be as substantive as gossamer.

Prayers For Tony Snow

I did not hear until well after I had left the house today that Tony Snow has been diagnosed with a recurrence of cancer, this time in his liver:

White House press secretary Tony Snow, who has become the face of the Bush presidency over the last year, has cancer again.
Snow’s deputy, Dana M. Perino, broke into tears at an off-camera briefing this morning as she announced that the cancer has spread to his liver. Doctors discovered it when they operated on Snow on Monday to remove a small growth that had developed in his lower abdomen.
President Bush, in brief remarks to reporters later in the White House Rose Garden, asked Americans to pray for his ailing spokesman, who he said called him this morning from the hospital to pass on the information that his cancer had returned.
“His attitude is one that he is not going to let this whip him, and he’s upbeat,” Bush said. “My attitude is that we need to pray for him and for his family.” He said his message to Snow is “stay strong; a lot of people love you and care for you and will pray for you. And we’re hoping for all the best.”
Bush added, “I’m looking forward to the day that he comes back to the White House and briefs the press corps on the decisions that I’m making and why I’m making them. In the meantime, I hope our fellow citizens offer a prayer to he and his family.”

Tony has always been a friend to CQ. He knew me and my work when I ran into him at the 2004 Republican National Convention, which floored me at the time. Tony graciously spent a few minutes between engagements there talking blogs, politics, and the convention, giving me a great deal of encouragement to continue my efforts.
He exemplifies for me the proper manner in which to engage in the political debate — tough, assertive, but personable and gracious. Where some radio hosts scream and use degrading personal attacks, Tony uses wit and rhetoric to score points, and always leaves people feeling that disagreement does not have to be disagreeable. When he took the White House job, Tony knew that he would have a tough task and absorb a lot of criticism onto himself for the administration’s message, but he believes in it and always puts the most professional face on the White House press efforts.
As part of my new efforts with Blog Talk Radio and full-time engagement in politics, I hoped to interview Tony at some point just to get a feel for how he sees his role. I’m praying that Tony will recover and I can still have the pleasure of his company for a short time. Liver cancer is tough, but so is Tony. With our prayers, we can all hope that Tony has plenty of gas left in the tank.
And let’s not forget Elizabeth Edwards in those prayers, either.

Giuliani Team On Blog Talk Radio Tonight

Given the status as frontrunner that they have surprisingly maintained, Rudy Giuliani’s campaign team has not made themselves or their candidate terribly available to the blogosphere. Lately, though, they have started accelerating their outreach, especially with their recent additions of Jim Dyke and Mike McKeon as new Senior Communications Advisors. Dyke will make an appearance tonight on Eric Dondero’s Blog Talk Radio program, Libertarian Politics Live. Given Eric’s philosophical leanings, that should make for an interesting interview.

Misreading McConnell

The Washington Post reports that Senate Republicans, led by Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, appear to have retreated from defending the White House on the supplemental funding bill for the Iraq war. The decision to forego a cloture battle gets analyzed as am increasingly unhappy GOP caucus forcing Bush to fight the battle on mandatory timetables alone:

Unwilling to do the White House’s heavy lifting on Iraq, Senate Republicans are prepared to step aside to allow language requiring troop withdrawals to reach President Bush, forcing him to face down Democratic adversaries with his veto pen.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) announced the shift in strategy yesterday, as the chamber took up a $122 billion war spending package that includes a target date of March 31, 2008, for ending most U.S. combat operations in Iraq. The provision, along with a similar House effort, represents the Democrats’ boldest challenge on the war, setting the stage for a dramatic showdown with Bush over an otherwise popular bill to keep vital military funds flowing.
Republicans will still attempt to remove the deadline in a Senate vote expected as soon as today, and GOP leaders were reasonably confident they would muster a majority. But the margin is expected to be thin, requiring the presence of Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who had skipped several previous Iraq votes to attend presidential campaign events. McCain canceled a series of fundraisers and meetings in Florida to return to Washington, telling a conservative radio program that he wanted to “beat back this recipe for defeat that the Democrats are trying to foist off on the American people.”
No matter the outcome of the Senate vote, McConnell is looking ahead, assuming House Democrats will insist that withdrawal conditions be included when a final bill is sent to Bush. If so, McConnell said, Republicans would forgo the parliamentary tactics they used to block antiwar legislation that had forced Democrats to amass an insurmountable 60 votes to prevail.

As Inigo Montoya said in The Princess Bride, “I do not think it means what you think it means.” Shailagh Murray and Jonathan Weisman leave two key items out of their analysis, which makes it clear that McConnell’s strategy has little to do with capitulation to the Democrats.
First, time is an issue. A filibuster of the bill would undoubtedly stop it from passing, but that will eat up a lot of time — and the funding of the troops runs out on April 15th. A spending bill has to get passed before then in order to ensure continuity of funding, including salaries, benefits, and so on. The Senate has to try to rewrite the bill so that it has no mandatory timetables for withdrawal, which Bush has made clear he will veto.
Second, the Republicans believe that they can prevail against the House version of the supplemental. Rather than go through the obstructionism of a filibuster, they would much rather beat the bill in a roll-call vote, if necessary. Thad Cochran and John Warner have worked on another version of the bill which would require more reporting from the White House on benchmarks, but would not use them to trigger mandatory withdrawal from Iraq. That has apparently convinced Ben Nelson (D-NE) to support the alternative — which would also assuredly get Joe Lieberman’s vote.
The key will be the conference committee, if McConnell can get the alternative passed instead of the House version. The troops will still need funding very quickly, and the Democrats may use that leverage to push for more restrictive language than Bush will accept. Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid will control the composition of that panel, and we can expect to see Chuck Hagel, Olympia Snowe, and/or Susan Collins as part of the Republican contingent. McConnell will allow a bad result to get vetoed at that point, not because he wants to give up the debate, but because Congress has to put that bill behind them in order to quickly work on another supplemental.
McConnell has a much more robust strategy than simply waiting for a presidential veto. The Post underestimates his strategy on this bill.