It's worth reading this Washington Post article to get a feel for how fully the press corps. is turning against Bush. The first graf is an explanation of Bush's "only talking point," that Democrats won't appropriate his desired funds. That alone is remarkable: Mere months ago, the talking point would simply be presented as a point, not identified as spin, and attributed to Bush's "strategists [who] hope to demonstrate strength and turn the tables on a Democratic Congress that may be overreaching." Hell, remember when the press was willing to believe that Bush didn't use polling?
Klein's analysis of the Post article is sharp indeed, but the press seems to be far more sympathetic to Bush's GOP allies in Congress. In today's New York Times a front page commentary compares the latest showdown between the President and his GOP allies in Congress, to the 1995 showdown between the Republican Congress and the Clinton White House. The article suggests that 1) the Democrats will look like they are abandoning the troops if they challenge Bush and 2) that they are doomed to fail just as the Republican Congress did in 1995.
“There were no Americans risking their lives at the Washington monument in 1995,” said Newt Gingrich, the Republican speaker at the time whom critics accused of badly overplaying his hand.
“There were no Americans being shot at the Interior Department in 1995,” he said. “We were engaged in a domestic political debate over being serious over a balanced budget. The Democrats risk sending signals to our enemies that kidnapping British sailors and killing young Americans is acceptable.”
It gets worse.
Today, the administration is making the case that the military will be denied resources, and some tours in Iraq might have to be extended if no bill is approved. But the Pentagon appears to have the flexibility to pay for operations at least through May and possibly longer with substantial juggling. Nevertheless, any event detrimental to the troops that could be tied to the impasse could cause a backlash for Democrats.
It is difficult to predict who will prevail. After all, no one foresaw in the fall of 1995 that a simple legislative dispute would end up stalling the momentum of a determined new majority and enhancing the standing of an embattled president.