This is getting a bit silly.

The White House and Congress failed to strike a deal Friday after exchanging competing offers on an Iraq war spending bill that Democrats said should set a date for U.S. troops to leave….

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said they offered to grant Bush the authority to waive the deadlines. They said they also suggested they would drop billions of dollars in proposed domestic spending that Bush opposed, in exchange for his acceptance of identifying a withdrawal date.

That, by the way, is the Democrats making the obvious concession that they denied they were making a week or so ago.

Bush, for his part, flat refused anything that had deadlines for withdrawal, even if he could waive them. He also indicated he would consider benchmarks for the Iraqi government that would include negative consequences if the Iraqis failed to meet them — although the details on that score were very vague.

In general, I’m with Bush on this one. The timetables need to be dropped for the time being to give the surge time to work. And the domestic funding has no business being used as a bargaining chip: it shouldn’t have been in the bill in the first place.

It’s May 18, people; time to stop playing games. The Democrats need to pass (and Bush needs to sign) a bill that does the following:

1. Contains no timetables;

2. Funds the war only through September, at which time the state of the surge and Iraqi political compliance can be assessed;

3. Contains hard benchmarks for the Iraqi government to hit, with generous support if they hit them and negative consequences if they don’t.

Reopen this fight when there’s meaningful data to fight about.

Business Bush, Dems at impasse on war funding