THE TIMELINE….Is last week’s House bill that sets out a timeline for withdrawal from Iraq either (a) a milestone or (b) a useless piece of symbolism? Beats me. I’ve read a ton of stuff pro and con, but when it comes to analyzing legislative strategy — as opposed to policy proposals — I’m pretty much clueless. I just don’t know enough about the realities on the ground in Congress to have a firm opinion on this kind of stuff.

However, E.J. Dionne argues today for option A:

“The vehemence with which the president opposed it made it clear to a lot of people that this was a change in direction and that it was significant,” said Rep. Chris Van Hollen (Md.), chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee….But the president’s uncompromising language and his effective imposition of an April 15 deadline for the funding bill — after that date, he said, “our men and women in uniform will face significant disruptions” — may solidify Democratic ranks without rallying new Republican support.

….With most counts showing Senate Democrats needing only one more vote to approve the call for troop withdrawals next year, antiwar pressures are growing on Sens. John Sununu (R-N.H.), Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Norm Coleman (R-Minn.). All face reelection next year, as does Sen. Gordon Smith (R-Ore.), who is already seen as leaning toward the withdrawal plan.

So that’s it. Only one Republican vote needs to switch. And when that happens, George Bush really will be alone, finally forced to make public his commitment to staying in Iraq forever. That will — finally — be the beginning of the end, because the public simply isn’t on his side anymore. And in a democracy, eventually, it’s the public that’s the real Decider. It’s time Bush learned that.

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