Turning Point

The president’s victory on Iraq war funding may prove to be an important turning point for the administration and for its Republican allies on the Hill. It sharply divided Democrats and gave Republicans some sorely needed momentum going into the Memorial Day recess.

The White House has also signaled that it is willing to be more flexible and creative when it comes to the battle for Iraq and the bigger war on terror.

Opening up a dialogue with Iran is a good thing. In order to stabilize Iraq, an agreement needs to be reached with Iran. Undoubtedly, just having the dialogue with the Iranians will cause some heartburn, especially with some of the president’s staunchest supporters. But dialogue is better than the status quo in Iraq.

The White House is finally making a compelling case for battling al Qaeda in Iraq, and getting some help in the storyline with the major media outlets. When the sheiks have had enough of al Qaeda and it is reported in the New York Times, that is positive news for this White House.

For Republicans, the best part of the war debate was exposing the deep divisions within the Democratic leadership. Not only was the Speaker forced to make a protest vote (never a comfortable situation for a Speaker), but the leading Democratic presidential candidates were forced to vote against funding for our troops (Hillary voted for the war before she voted against it, the campaign ad should go), but only after getting assurances that the bill would pass. Talk about hypocrisy.

The MoveOn-ers have laid down the gauntlet for the Democrats. Vote responsibly at your own peril. That might seem to be the smart position to a bunch of kids. But to the rest of America, cutting off funding for the troops in the middle of this war is the height of irresponsibility.

Republicans left town feeling better than they have in months about their political fortunes. Hopefully this optimism will translate into better approval ratings and a renewed sense of purpose for congressional Republicans in the summer and fall.