Washington Post Staff Writers
Friday, February 27, 2009; Page A03
President Obama sought yesterday to quell growing complaints from members of Congress about his plans for drawing down troops in Iraq, inviting lawmakers to a White House meeting on the eve of a North Carolina speech in which he is expected to announce that he will pull out many combat troops by August of 2010.
After House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) complained that the level of troops -- 50,000 -- who would remain in Iraq is too high, other senior Democrats voiced similar concerns. Not one member of the Democratic leadership, except for Sen. Richard J. Durbin (Ill.), defended the new Obama plan, which will take three months longer than he promised and still leave a significant force structure on the ground.
Now you might have noticed the Speaker jumping up and down like a middle-school cheerleader behind the president on Tuesday night, but when the cameras are off she's not so happy.
Pelosi’s aides say the speaker was comfortable playing the role of Obama’s shield during the stimulus fight—Republicans teed off on her rather than on the immensely popular new president—and that she remains strongly supportive of the administration on health care, energy and education reform.
But on Iraq and other high-profile issues that matter to her, aides say Pelosi has no intention of holding her tongue when she thinks Obama is wrong.
On Wednesday night, Pelosi made it clear to MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow that she wasn’t happy with Obama’s plan to leave 50,000 U.S. troops in Iraq and that, unlike Obama, she “absolutely” favors criminal prosecutions for any Bush administration officials involved in torture or other excesses in the fight against terrorism.
On Thursday, Pelosi said she’d move “faster” than Obama is to roll back Bush-era tax cuts. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Senate Democratic Caucus Vice Chairman Chuck Schumer joined Pelosi’s critique of Obama’s plan to leave. Reid urged Obama not to push too hard to eliminate congressional earmarks.
Suffice it to say that "other high-profile issues that matter to her" would be the ones you and I would be very concerned over as well. In the opposite direction.
In any case, given her bent, I think it's going to be fairly safe to say that whenever Mr. Obama ticks off Ms. Pelosi, we'll be slightly better off. But only slightly.
Labels: Political Observation