Our ongoing struggles in the war in Iraq have taken their toll on Americans’ support for the operation and resulted in more unneeded death and destruction in the region than anyone in Washington anticipated. The cost has been enormous, but there is one modest upside to the continuing failures of our occupation: They have given Republicans the unenviable choice between trying to justify an increasingly unjustifiable invasion and explicitly criticizing the president who led us there, which runs the risk of alienating core GOP voters.
Not surprisingly, neither of these options has been eagerly embraced by Republicans. President George W. Bush’s proposed plan to increase troop levels in Iraq by a meager 21,000 has not helped matters, being both a sign of the administration’s complete disconnect from the reality in Iraq and also the only measure Republicans are able to support without criticizing the president.
That helps explain why some Republicans in Congress have tried to take a third option: shift the burden of responsibility to the Democrats. That’s certainly not a new tactic for the Republicans, but they usually try to pretend to have the moral high ground regardless and don’t admit that they’re merely trying to pass the buck. So when a memo by two GOP Congressmen admitting exactly that, as well as even more damning ‘tactics’ to use when debating the war in Iraq in Congress, appeared two weeks ago, the only surprise came from the fact that two elected Republicans could actually be thick enough to put their shameless and repugnant political strategizing in writing and sign it with their names.
On Feb. 13, the Web site of House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Maryland) posted a letter obtained by Rep. Hoyer’s office written by Reps. John Shadegg (R-Arizona) and Pete Hoekstra (R-Michigan) which gives some suggestions as to how fellow Republican Congressmen should debate the Democratic nonbinding resolution denouncing the proposed troop surge (http://majorityleader.house.gov/docUploads/ShadeggHoekstraDearColleague.pdf). They didn’t say how a memo obviously meant for GOP members’ eyes found its way into the hands of the majority leader, but regardless, the memo speaks for itself: ‘Democrats want to force us to focus on defending the surge, making the case that it will work and explaining why the president’s new Iraq policy is different from prior efforts and therefore justified.
‘We urge you to instead broaden the debate to the threat posed to Americans, the world and all ‘unbelievers’ by radical Islamists. We would further urge you to join us in educating the American people about the views of radical Islamists and the consequences of not defeating radical Islam in Iraq.
‘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 the Democrats force us into a debate on the surge or the current situation in Iraq, we lose.’
Try reading that again to make sure it sinks in. Here we have a memo, written and signed by two GOP Congressmen for the purpose of distribution to other GOP Congressmen (obviously, the Democrats were never supposed to see this), which in no uncertain terms asserts that it is not the prerogative of Republicans to defend the proposed troop surge or the president’s policies in Iraq, and furthermore that if they even try to debate ‘the surge or the current situation in Iraq,’ they will lose.
Michael Moore couldn’t write a parody GOP memo that good.
Once you get past the shock that two elected officials at the highest level are actually stupid enough to make those kinds of concessions to the other side in writing, realize then what this fully reveals about Congressional Republicans: They are fully aware how indefensible the current situation in Iraq, and all the blatant missteps and poor execution it took to get there, have become. They are fully aware that a kid playing ‘Risk’ could have waged the war better than President Bush has, and that the 21,000 troop surge is a joke. They know that more American soldiers will continue to die unless a major change in operations happens, and that their party has simply no room to criticize anyone else on the issue.
And they don’t care. Because partisan politics dictate that they try to stand behind the president anyway, blame the Democrats, and try to reclaim Congress again for the Republicans, whether or not they have any right to.
The memo continues: ‘Thanks to the liberal mainstream media, Americans fully understand the consequence of continuing our efforts in Iraq