The House began debate yesterday on the resolution pushed by the Democratic leadership opposing the deployment of additional troops to fight terrorist violence in Iraq. For political spin purposes, Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her colleagues dress up their repudiation of the soldiers’ mission with disingenuous rhetoric of “supporting the troops.” But senior Democrats have made it clear that their nonbinding resolution is step one of a larger effort to undermine the war in Iraq and the larger war on terror — but to do so in a way that leaves relatively few Democratic fingerprints and damages President Bush’s ability to perform his duties as commander in chief.
For the record, the Democratic talking-points position is that their side has no intention of cutting off funds for the troops who are in harm’s way — something Americans oppose. A recent Wall Street Journal poll found that Americans opposed by a margin of 52 percent to 41 percent the idea of cutting off funds as a way to force Mr. Bush to change his Iraq policy. Gen. David Petraeus, whose nomination as commander of multinational forces in Iraq has received near-universal support from congressional Democrats and Republicans alike and who was confirmed on an 81-0 Senate vote, calls the additional forces “essential.” He states that he “would not be able to do his job” as commander “without the additional 21,000 troops President Bush has pledged to Iraq.”
But the truth is that the Democrats are trying to cut the legs out from under Gen. Petraeus. Rep. John Murtha, the Pelosi confidant who chairs the House Appropriations Defense Subcommittee, wants to attach conditions to funding for the war in Iraq that would effectively make it impossible for the U.S. military to do its job. “Murtha’s plan, backed by Pelosi, is to deprive Republicans of the argument that Democrats are choking off funds, while taking binding action against the war couched as protecting the troops,” a “senior Democratic leadership aide” told The Washington Post yesterday.
All the pious declarations from Democratic lawmakers — veterans and nonveterans — about their concern for the troops being paramount, are a sham. In other words, the Democrats have concluded that we cannot win in Iraq and they are using the welfare of the troops to conceal the fact that they are prepared to abandon Iraq to insurgent terrorists and militias, even as they pretend to support Gen. Petraeus and the troops.
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer who said last week that Republicans would be permitted to offer an alternative to the resolution opposing the president, reversed himself under pressure from Mrs. Pelosi. Democrats were apparently worried that an amendment opposing a cutoff in funds, proposed by Rep. Sam Johnson, Texas Republican, would attract too much support from conservative Democrats. So, the Democratic leadership effectively gagged Mr. Johnson, a Vietnam veteran who spent nearly seven years in a POW camp, barring him from offering his alternative proposal on the floor. House Republicans need to drive home the point that the supporters of the House resolution are determined to cut off funds for the troops but are too intellectually dishonest to say so publicly right now.