Since the White House strike on Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani, many Democrats have been outraged — not at Iran, but at President Trump.
Republicans cried foul Monday after days of Democratic criticism over the decision to take out the Iranian military leader, led by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who called last week’s attack “provocative and disproportionate.”
White House counsel Kellyanne Conway swung back by accusing congressional Democrats of ignoring the danger posed by the former Quds Force commander responsible for the deaths of hundreds of U.S. soldiers in the Middle East.
“They sound like they’re defending Soleimani and attacking this president, and that’s on them,” said Mrs. Conway in a White House briefing. “I’m a little tired of the hero worship of whoever the president has taken out.”
She accused Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Robert Menendez of New Jersey of “chest-thumping” with their demands for the White House to produce the intelligence leading up to the attack, saying both were aware that Congress would receive a briefing.
“We got over a long time ago appeasing his [Trump’s] critics,” Mrs. Conway said. “He’s the commander-in-chief, and he did what a responsible, strong — not weak — commander-in-chief does when faced with the opportunity to take out one of the, if not the, world’s most wanted terrorist.”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell noted that Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Massachusetts Democrat, released a follow-up statement blasting Mr. Trump after she was criticized by the left for her initial tweet saying “Soleimani was a murderer.”
“Unfortunately, in this toxic political environment, some of our colleagues have rushed to blame our own government before even knowing the facts; rushed to split hairs about intelligence before being briefed on it; and rushed to downplay Soleimani’s evil while presenting our own president as the villain,” Mr. McConnell said in a floor speech.
Even former vice presidential nominee Joe Lieberman criticized his fellow Democrats Monday for their “uniformly skeptical or negative reactions to Soleimani’s death,” arguing that the decision deserves bipartisan support.
“All the questions are being raised by Democrats and all the praise is coming from Republicans,” Mr. Lieberman wrote in a Wall Street Journal op-ed. “That divided response suggests the partisanship that has infected and disabled so much of U.S. domestic policy now also determines our elected leaders’ responses to major foreign-policy events and national-security issues, even the killing of a man responsible for murdering hundreds of Americans and planning to kill thousands more.”
Democrats have accused Mr. Trump of putting the nation on the path for another Middle East war with the Friday strike at Baghdad International Airport, questioning the legality of the attack and insisting that he should have sought congressional authorization.
House intelligence committee chairman Adam Schiff called Monday for Congress to move forward with “hearings and constraints,” blasting Mr. Trump’s “dangerous and provocative decision” while agreeing that “Soleimani was responsible for unthinkable violence and the world is better off without him.”
The leading presidential candidates were also critical of Mr. Trump. Ms. Warren tweeted Monday that the president was “dangerous,” while Sen. Bernard Sanders of Vermont called for legislation that “reasserts Congress’s constitutional authority over war.”
Meanwhile, conservatives criticized the coverage from mainstream media outlets as more friendly toward Soleimani than Mr. Trump.
“Story after story is talking about how ‘Soleimani was so revered, so respected, so beloved in Iran, he was a hero to them.’ This is the kind of fawning coverage that this terrorist has gotten on the networks. That is remarkable,” said Kyle Drennen, Media Research Center senior news analyst.
That coverage comes even though “if you talk to your average American, I think they’re probably pretty happy that an Iranian terrorist who had hundreds of American deaths on his hands is gone.”
Washington Post reporter Missy Ryan was rapped Monday on social media for retweeting a photo comparing the crowds at the Soleimani funeral to those at Mr. Trump’s 2016 inauguration.
“The media is not interested in reporting accurately or fairly on Iran and Iraq. They just want to help the Democrats beat Trump,” said Erick Erickson of the Resurgent.