President Bush insists that he will oppose any date certain for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq. Bush gets angry when confronted with deadlines imposed by the Congress.
The president can accomplish this by vetoing any bill containing a withdrawal with the stroke of his veto pen. He has the votes to sustain a vetono question.
One date he can't avoid is Jan. 20, 2009, when his term expires. That date is fixed in the Constitution, and he can't veto it.
The president argues that commanders in the field should not be strapped with a deadline while fighting a war, albeit a civil or religious war unlike any combat.
What about our Iraqi allies?
The Iraqi military forces have come up short in almost every phase of the fighting. They are quite willing to see U.S. men and women in the forefront and need to be told there is an end to this misadventure.
In addition, we aren't always assured of the loyalty of the Iraqis. In the past, they have either turned on Americans or informed on them. Some are far more interested in the raging battle between the Sunnis and the Shiites.
Bush has called for more patience as the "surge" goes on in Baghdad and its suburbs. The increase in troop strength, or surge, is already beyond the initial 20,000 announced last January. Meanwhile, the daily killings continue.
In Congress, nearly all Republicans claim Democrats are: 1. endangering troops, 2. attempting to micromanage the war, and 3. calling for a surrender.
U.S. troops are already in serious danger and have been for a long time. The president may not be managing the war, but he is the commander in chief. Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld have already done a huge share of micromanaging.
The talk of surrender is foolish. Hasn't the United States given enough of its youth, its treasure, and its patience in this nonending struggle?
Jan. 21, 2009, can't come soon enough.