I guess it will sound like utterly insufficient gratitude, but I am not happy with Bush’s veto of the Farm Bill today. Why? Because he did it way too soon. NRO wisely noted several days ago that Bush should take his time before issuing the veto — he is allowed ten days — in order to give his allies time to make the case to the public about why his veto ought to be sustained. Bush could have waited until the very end of next week, and vetoed the bill just as Congress was going out of session, giving Congress no time to override his veto before its Memorial Day recess. That way, Bush and conservatives could have had ten days to make their case about why the bill is so gawdawful, and get the public sufficiently upset about the bill that the congressmen would hear about it in no uncertain terms during town meetings. THEN Bush would have had a chance to actually defeat an attempted override vote. As it is, Congress will probably move quickly to override before the general public really knows the difference. No blogger alerts, no talk radio campaign — NOTHING. It’s almost as if Bush doesn’t really care if he is overridden. Either that, or else this White House again has shown that its political tactics are just pathetically inept.
I vote for a little of both. Remember that Bob Novak reported earlier this week the same thing I heard independently, that the president offered only a tepid explanation for his coming veto when he met with GOP House members last week, and that he immediately said he understood that good people liek Bob Goodlatte put a lot of work into the bill and he understands if they pass it despite his wishes. And he offered the congressmen no specific reasons, or very very few, why the bill was so bad. That, combined with this hasty veto, tells me the president wants credit for finally taking a real stand against spending, while not really wanting his stand to, well… to stand.
If the White House already has whipped this and has a plan to get the veto sustained and succeeds in the plan, I will gladly stand corrected, eat crow, praise Bush to high heaven, etc. I WANT him to succeed with this veto. I just don’t think this is the way to do it.