Michael Barone

Whether Bush and congressional Republicans would accept that is unclear. It could be argued that it would enable Bush to play the good cop with the Iraqis, with the Democratic Congress as the bad cop. Or it could be portrayed as micromanaging by 535 commanders in chief.

We witness here a division in the Democratic Party -- its politicians and its voters -- that we have seen ever since military action started to be considered in 2002. Then, most House Democrats voted against the Iraq war resolution, most Senate Democrats for it. The lineup today is not necessarily the same: Levin, who voted against the war resolution, insists the troops must be funded; Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who voted for the war resolution and said last November that of course the troops will be funded, now says he's for Sen. Russ Feingold's March 2008 deadline.

What's curious is that congressional Democrats don't seem much interested in what's actually happening in Iraq. The commander in Iraq, Gen. David Petraeus, returns to Washington this week, but last week Pelosi's office said "scheduling conflicts" prevented him from briefing House members. Two days later, the members-only meeting was scheduled, but the episode brings to mind the fact that Pelosi and other top House Democrats skipped a Pentagon videoconference with Petraeus on March 8.

How long this fight will go on is unclear. Some Democrats predict that it will continue for months. But their dilemma remains the same. They want to be seen as acting to end the war. But they dare not be seen as not funding the troops.


Michael Barone

Michael Barone, senior political analyst for The Washington Examiner (www.washingtonexaminer.com), is a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, a Fox News Channel contributor and a co-author of The Almanac of American Politics. To find out more about Michael Barone, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com. COPYRIGHT 2011 THE WASHINGTON EXAMINER. DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS.COM