Bridge on the River Kwai

In the Academy Award-winning movie “Bridge on the River Kwai,” British Lt. Col. Nicholson (played by Alec Guinness) becomes so enamored of his project of building the bridge, which will help his enemy in the long run, he actually attempts to stop efforts to blow it up by his fellow allies. That is called losing the proper focus.

House Republicans may be accused of pulling a “Nicholson” if they cooperate too much in finding a solution to the war-funding crisis. House Minority Whip Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), in particular, has proposed some steps to bridge the gap between the White House and congressional Democrats.

But unlike Nicholson, Blunt is actually serving a bigger purpose than just building a bridge. He and his House Republican colleagues may actually save the reputation of congressional Republicans and the Republican Party.

A long, drawn-out battle with multiple vetoes and overheated rhetoric will not help the White House, and it certainly won’t help our troops as they try to complete the mission in Iraq.

Congressional Democrats seem to be in a box. On the one hand, they have to do the right thing because they are in charge. On the other, they can’t because their activist base won’t let them.

But putting congressional Democrats in a political box doesn’t necessarily serve the long-term interests of the nation. Getting funding to the troops does.

Two things are factually accurate and at complete odds with one another. First, the American people want the federal government to continue to fund the war. Second, the American people want the war to end.

The Republican brand is low right now, driven down in no small part by the war. The president’s bully pulpit is not so bully right now. The president shouldn’t count on the American people rallying to his side. Finding common ground is essential.

Congressional Republicans are actually doing a remarkable job of counterpunching and beating the Democrats on issue after issue on the House and Senate floors. But their message is not getting through because of the fog of war.

Blunt is making the right play. He is no Nicholson. He and the House Republican leadership should continue their efforts to build a bridge between the White House and congressional Democrats, and get the critical funding for the war.