Wednesday, February 14, 2007

The Timid Trio - "Standing Silent" On Iraq

by Kyle Michaelis
Yesterday, the Omaha World-Herald's front-page headline read, "Standing Silent on Surge," referring to the coordinated but cowardly choice by Nebraska's Republican Congressmen not to engage in an honest debate of the Bush Administration's conducting of the war in Iraq - especially its escalation of our military operations by sending 20,000 to 40,000 more troops and personnel into harm's way.

Our "Timid Trio" of Representatives - Jeff Fortenberry, Lee Terry, and Adrian Smith (now in version 2.0) - have instead chosen to play the same games we saw for the last four years as House Republicans stood in the way of any substantive discussion, disclosure, or even criticism of the ill-fated direction of Bush's supposed strategy.

To really understand the patheticness of their position, let us first look at the actual resolution the House is debating this week over the objections of the Republican minority:
Concurrent Resolution on the President's Escalation Plan

Resolved by the House of Representatives (the Senate concurring), That—

(1) Congress and the American people will continue to support and protect the members of the United States Armed Forces who are serving or who have served bravely and honorably in Iraq; and

(2) Congress disapproves of the decision of President George W. Bush announced on January 10, 2007, to deploy more than 20,000 additional United States combat troops to Iraq.
Pretty simple, wouldn't you say? We support the troops but not the troop surge.

Now, you can question the sufficiency of such a statement and whether - like the Warner-Levin Resolution - it shouldn't endorse specific changes in our Iraq policy and military priorities. But, look instead at the attempted misdirection and intentional confusion of the issues from the Timid Trio's most recent statements in response to so straight-forward a resolution.

First, let's give the Second District's Lee Terry the floor (as reported in the World-Herald):
I would like to say that we should re-communicate our support for our
troops there and not cut funding for them, while standing silent on the surge"....

I'm not willing to pull the rug out from under the troops that are over there. I'm willing to go along with (the surge) with the goal that this could actually quicken our ability to get out of Iraq.
With the suggestion that Congress should "stand silent" like it has for the last four years, the Chair of the Nebraska Democratic Party, Steve Achelpohl, immediately released the following all-too-deserved rebuke:
It is time for Lee Terry to begin speaking up for the people of Nebraska and stop hiding in the corner, hoping someone else will lead for him.

All Nebraskans should stand by the men and women who are fighting daily in this war. However, “standing silent” on the tough decisions does nothing to support our troops. They deserve a rigorous debate. They deserve to know where their representatives stand on the issues and proposals being considered. They deserve leadership, not silence.
I couldn't have said it better myself. Of course, Terry's remarks invited such criticism because his call for continued Congressional silence is such a clear violation of democratic tradition and duty. Reps. Fortenberry and Smith have not made statements so offensive but only because they have not been as honest as Terry about their true objectives.

On Tuesday, the World-Herald reported:
[Fortenberry] said he wants clear benchmarks for the Iraq government to meet, more aggressive congressional oversight and support for U.S. troops now in the field.

And, today, the World-Herald quotes Fortenberry speaking on the House floor:
I see no useful purpose in supporting a nonbinding resolution that may have the unintentional consequence of undermining our efforts while our troops remain in harm's way.
After his call for "more aggressive congressional oversight" and the House Resolution's express statement of support for the U.S. Armed Forces, can anyone explain what the hell Fortenberry is talking about? He implies that simply stating opposition to a single Bush proposal has an "undermining" effect. With that mentality, just what sort of "aggressive" Congressional oversight does Fortenberry really support?

Oh yeah, the same kind we saw for the last four years - none at all.

As for Adrian Smith (whose latest Iraq spin I've already written about), it's still worth taking a look at his most recent recitation of GOP talking points. The World-Herald reports:
Smith said he will oppose any resolution that doesn't offer solutions to the problems in Iraq....

"I want to give the president's strategy a chance because I believe that's how
we best support our troops."
So, basically, Smith will oppose Congress acting as anything but Bush's poodle, deliberately confusing support for the President with support for the troops and hoping that no one will tell the difference.

Smith's "support" for our troops would allow thousands more to die in Iraq without question, comment, or criticism. I think our brave men and women in combat - not to mention their families - would politely tell Smith to take that kind of "support" and shove it.

Thankfully, the days of the Timid Trio's style of Congressional complacency are finally over. Although, honestly, complacency is far too kind a characterization. Their real agenda is to confuse the issues and to kill debate. For evidence of this fact, you need look no further than a letter that Republican Congressman John Shadegg recently sent to his colleagues calling for just the sort of misdirection and contradictions on Iraq that we're seeing from our own Congressmen.

Shadegg wrote:
The debate should not be about the surge or its details. This debate should not even be about the Iraq war to date, mistakes that have been made, or whether we can, or cannot, win militarily. If we let Democrats force us into a debate on the surge or the current situation in Iraq, we lose.
Apparently, Fortenberry, Terry, and Smith all got the memo. After all, not one of them has so far contributed anything of substance to the Congressional debate.

Since last year, the only thing that has changed is their slogans. Like President Bush, the Timid Trio supports staying the course on everything but use of the phrase "stay the course." If anything, with this escalation, they're now endorsing a policy of "stay the course on steroids" but don't even have the decency to admit it.

Each day, they betray our soldiers in the field, the voters that they serve, and the offices that they hold by standing in the way of an honest debate about where we stand and what options we really have in Iraq. And, as we can see here, they will continue in that betrayal so long as we - the people - allow it.

For all of our sakes, I hope we won't allow it much longer.

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Anonymous NE Voter said...

Jeff Fortenberry's hypocrisy can be easily exposed with a single question.

The Setup: This morning's OW-H quotes Fortenberry as follows: "I submit that our choices now stand to determine not only the future of the Middle East but the very future of the civilization."

The Question: Mr. Fortenberry, if our civilization is at stake, why aren't you demanding the insertion of 500,000 additional troops?

Bonus Question: Mr. Fortenberry, do you believe an additional 21,500 troops is adequate to save our civilization?

Wake up, people!

Anonymous Dave Sund said...

Very happy to see this news: Harry Reid is dropping his support of Warner-Levin in favor of the House Resolution. This is good. The House resolution doesn't attempt to go beyond denouncing the "surge," so there is no need to include conciliatory language that undermines later efforts.

This is the resolution they should have had from the very beginning. No excuses.

Blogger Lisa Hannah said...

Here's an irony for you, Kyle. While Adrian Smith is out there blindly supporting the President, he's also saying he's doing this because, the OWH article also says:

Most Nebraskans serving in Iraq and their families whom Smith has talked with view Bush's troop surge as a move forward, Smith said.

Now here's the irony: Ollie North, of all people, is saying the very opposite:

McCain and Lieberman talked to many of the same officers and senior NCOs I covered for FOX News during my most recent trip to Iraq. Not one of the soldiers, sailors, airmen, Guardsmen or Marines I interviewed told me that they wanted more U.S. boots on the ground. In fact, nearly all expressed just the opposite: "We don't need more American troops, we need more Iraqi troops," was a common refrain. They are right.

Thought you'd find that interesting. :o)


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