More Presidential Grandstanding
I heard part of the Prez's press conference this morning, and he primarily came off as petulant--it must be hard when the other children won't let you play with the toys you want. He was critical of the slovenly Democratic Congress, which has still not fulfilled his request for supplemental spending on Iraq fifty-seven days after he sent it. (Think Progress points out that the last Republican Congress took more than twice as long to approve a similar request to nary a peep from the Prez.)
It will be interesting to see how this stalemate comes out. This isn't a shutting-down-the-government level of disagreement, but it can come close if the military is not given funding it needs to keep active. Of course, there's a dispute on when exactly that is. Last week, the Prez was saying that without a supplemental by April 15, things in the military will become very dire indeed, but that claim quickly became the subject of dueling press releases. John Murtha challenged the administration and had a Congressional Research Service report to back up his claim (which you can see via Think Progress). Today, the Prez reasserted his point (that's the same link as above--you'll have to search the transcript yourself), and if that isn't enough, he put out his own press release quoting Harry Reid (although I must admit that I haven't been able to find that quote anywhere else but in the White House press release) and refuting him with quotes from various generals.
When it comes to the big stand-off, it will be interesting to see what will happen. In my memory, we've had two instances of shutting down the government over budget disagreements. In both cases, under Reagan and under Clinton, the President won. The President has an easier time of presenting his case because Congress has so many different voices that it's hard to put forward a consistent case. This time, though, the President's position is far less popular, and he's got a smaller base to start with. Still, the dynamic of the situation is in his favor. What the Democrats have going for them is the fact that Republicans in Congress have very shallow support for the Prez. They don't want to cross him, yet, but they certainly don't want to go to the mat for him, either. Will the Dems be able to keep their nerve longer than their competitors across the aisle? That's where we have to keep our eyes focused, because everything will boil down to that equation.