The Clinton White House was fighting to maintain the growth in popular domestic program - Medicare. The Bush White House is fighting to maintain funding for an unpopular foreign war - Iraq.
Nevertheless, the Democrats in the House have surrendered on Iraq. They will be permitted to save face by tacking a minimum wage increase on to it, and a few of the tens of billions of dollars of domestic add-ons in the bill which President Bush vetoed but, more importantly, there will be no timeline for withdrawal.
Despite the bluster and bother of Pelosi and her allies on the Left could not defeat Bush on Iraq funding.
As Noam Levey pointed out in an LA Times piece, the Pelosi retreat "reflects the simple mathematics of a closely divided Congress in which Democrats cannot muster veto-proof majorities for any proposal that would compel a pullout."
A couple of weeks ago when the MoveOn.org leadership (which quite properly believes it has bought and paid for the House majority) sent an open letter to Congressional Democrats which, according to the NY Times included this:
"If Democrats appear to capitulate to Bush - passing a bill without measures to end the war - the unity Democrats have enjoyed and Democratic leadership has so expertly built, will immediately disappear."
Well, boys, it looks like the capitulation is upon us.
It would be interesting if the Popular Press tracked down the MoveOn folks to ask them exactly when we should expect that "immediate disappearing" business to begin.
So the teaching point today is: Even a weakened White House which is not aggressively on message is still a more potent political force in the United States than the majority in the House, in the Senate or both.
On a the Secret Decoder Ring page today: A clip from the Clinton "relevancy" press conference, and links to the NY Times, the AP, and the LA Times articles referenced above. Also a silly Mullfoto and a Catchy Caption of the Day.