On Tuesday, after Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid properly framed Bush's expected veto of the eventual Iraq bill as keeping "in place his strategy for failure," LiberalOasis said that would only succeed in framing the overall debate if "all congressional Dems" articulated the same.
Yesterday on ABC's This Week, Senate Armed Services Chair Carl Levin failed to so, and instead, trapped himself in Dubya's inaccurate frame.
Levin did not explain how a veto means Democrats (and a few Republicans) will only fund a new strategy that rejects permanent occupation, and the president is thwarting the people's will by continuing the current failed strategy.
Instead, flinching at Bush's veto pledge, Levin offered up a major concession:
...we can keep the benchmarks part of the bill, without saying that the troops must begin to come back within four months.
If that's doesn't work, and the president vetoes because of that -- and he will -- then that part of it is removed. Because we're going to fund the troops.
And what we will leave would be benchmarks, for instance, which would require the president to certify to the American people, if the Iraqis are meeting the benchmarks for political settlement which they the Iraqi leaders have set for themselves.
Instead of standing up to Bush and putting a political price on his veto, Levin is trying to find a way to appease Bush, treating the veto as no big deal.
And it's a major concession, taking out the mandate that a redeployment actually begin. Benchmarks not tied to anything else are meaningless.
Is Levin speaking for all Senate Dems? Or he is freelancing?
Over on Fox News Sunday, Sen. Chuck Schumer kept with Reid's frame about this being a debate over strategy, but cracked the door open to some sort of "compromise."
In this resolution that we will send the president, we are giving actually even a little more money for the troops than the president has requested. And nothing will stand in our way of supporting the troops in every way.
But, second, at the same time, we believe very deeply that we need a change in strategy in Iraq. We are now basically policing a civil war...
...Should he veto this bill, which means he will be vetoing the money for the troops, we will try to come up with a way ... to compromise with the White House, that both supports the troops and yet changes the strategy in Iraq, which we feel is misguided.
You can read that different ways, depending on how seriously he means "change the strategy."
It certainly isn't accurate to claim there's potential common ground for a compromise on strategy. Either you want to stay permanently or you don't.
But it only takes one key Democrat to screw up a good frame. And it was Levin who did that yesterday.