- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 22, 2002

The majority whip of the House of Representatives, Tom Delay, delivered yesterday in Houston what was, in effect, the opening congressional speech on behalf of empowering the president to make war on Saddam Hussein's Iraq. It was a powerful, jarring speech, intended to snap Washington's political class out of the complacency into which it has drifted. It may well have accomplished its objective. Even Mr. Delay's detractors would have to confess that the speech had Churchillian echoes. His sparse, factual, yet vivid recitation of Saddam's history of dangerous militarism, starting with "the great bloodbath that announced his regime," recalls to mind similar cadences seven decades ago on the floor of the British House of Commons.
Mr. Delay's unblinking, yet magnanimous, criticism of President Bush's detractors raised this speech above the normal rhetorical exchanges we have come to expect in Washington. "Many of those questioning the president's policy have served America well for many years. And I respect their service to our country. But I couldn't disagree more strongly about the grave costs of avoiding a confrontation with Iraq."
This was a morally serious, historically impeccable and politically refined address, delivered by a central figure in the upcoming congressional debate and vote. It will be hard for those who will follow and respond to this address in the coming weeks to relapse into hazy and complacent non sequiturs. Mr. Delay has set an admirable standard for the debate, against which others will be measured. The issues of life and death, of national security and, indeed, of our nation's future require that all sides to this debate match the statesmanship offered yesterday by Mr. Delay.


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