McDermott Won’t Retract Baghdad Attack on Bush

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  • 09/21/2022

Democratic Representatives Jim McDermott (Wash.), David Bonior (Mich.) and Mike Thompson (Calif.) went to Baghdad last week to argue, from Iraqi soil, against President Bush’s policy of removing Saddam Hussein from power.

Interviewed on ABC’s "This Week" last Sunday, McDermott, while in Baghdad, said, "I think you have to take the Iraqis on their value-at their face value." He also said, "I think the President would mislead the American people."

It is the congressman’s view, in other words, that Saddam can be trusted but the American President cannot be-especially on matters touching on U.S. national security.

"Not since Jane Fonda posed for photographers at a Hanoi anti-aircraft gun," columnist George Will aptly observed, "has there been anything like Rep. Jim McDermott, speaking to ABC’s ‘This Week’ from Baghdad." HUMAN EVENTS Assistant Editor David Freddoso went to the Capitol last week to query McDermott’s colleagues to see if any might take his side on the issue. He ran into McDermott himself who declined to retract his attack on the President.

Do you agree with Congressman Jim McDermott’s statement from Baghdad that President Bush "would mislead the American people" on Iraq?

REP. BOB BARR (R.-GA.): You mean Jim ‘Hanoi Jane’ McDermott?

You would disagree? Would you condemn that statement?

BARR: I think it’s disgraceful that he would go to Iraq at this time and under these circumstances and make sentences in support of Saddam Hussein and against President Bush. I think it’s disgraceful. I’ve rarely seen anything that’s more disgraceful for a public official.


Do you condemn Congressman Jim McDermott’s statement from Baghdad that President Bush "would mislead the American people" on Iraq?

REP. SAXBY CHAMBLISS (R.-GA.): Now I have no idea why Congressman McDermott would, in the first place go to Baghdad, but why he would give any kind of credence to Saddam Hussein over President George W. Bush is beyond imagination. President Bush has been straightforward and honest with the American people. He’s returned honesty and integrity to the White House, unlike Mr. McDermott’s former President, and I think it’s atrocious he’d make the kind of statements he made over there.


Do you agree with Congressman McDermott that President Bush would-


You would disagree?

FROST: The answer is no.

Would you condemn that statement?

FROST: No. I don’t agree with McDermott. I would not make that statement. And I wouldn’t have gone to Iraq. He’s a member of Congress. He represents a district in Seattle. It’s up to him how he conducts himself.


Do you agree with Congressman Jim McDermott’s statement from Baghdad that President Bush "would mislead the American people" on Iraq?

REP. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R.-S.C.): This episode with Congressman McDermott is one of the more outrageous things I’ve been exposed to in the last eight years. That’s saying a lot. For a member of Congress to question the character of a President in the capital of a clear enemy to the United States is so out of bounds that it’s hard to even absorb how to respond other than with just deep disappointment. It is not helping America, it is not helping the war on terrorism. It is undermining the war on terrorism. I really do believe that Congressman McDermott needs to rally around the President as commander-in-chief, rather than trying to undercut him in such a way as to challenge the President’s character and judgment in the capital of an enemy. I believe that it demeans himself and the [House].


Do you agree with Congressman McDermott’s remark from Baghdad that President Bush "would mislead the American people" on Iraq?

REP. J. D. HAYWORTH (R.-ARIZ.): I’m very disappointed in Congressman McDermott. Not that people don’t have the right to dissent, but that he would go to a foreign, hostile capital and express his disdain and distrust of the President of the United States, I find thoroughly despicable.

Would you condemn such a remark?

HAYWORTH: Yes, I would wholeheartedly condemn that despicable remark, and I believe that Congressman McDermott ought to apologize the President of the United States and the people of Washington State.


Do you agree with Congressman Jim McDermott’s statement from Baghdad that President Bush "would mislead the American people" when it comes to Iraq?

REP. EDDIE BERNICE JOHNSON (D.-TEX.): That’s a broad question. I don’t know if he would mislead the American people. But I would have some questions about just jumping into the war without the UN being involved and without allies and no plan for nation building afterwards. I think that’s important.

Some people have said the statement was outrageous. You wouldn’t think that?

JOHNSON: No, I haven’t seen the statement.


Did you agree with what Congressman McDermott was saying from Baghdad, that President Bush "would mislead the American people" when it comes to Iraq?

REP. BARBARA LEE (D.-CALIF.): I have my own position with regard to the possible use of force in Iraq. One is, I don’t believe the Bush doctrine of pre-emption allows us to maintain our moral authority in the world when we support the position that the weapons of war should not be used anywhere in the world. And secondly, I believe in the inspection process. I have my own position.

Would you agree that the President is misleading-

LEE: Sir, I have my own position on this. I have a resolution that’s been supported by 35 members of Congress, and I urge you to look at that resolution.

But about the President misleading the people-

LEE: I’m talking to you about what my position is. I don’t comment on what other people are doing. You’ve got to look at what I’m doing, at what my position is.


Congressman McDermott? I’m David Freddoso from HUMAN EVENTS.

REP. JIM MCDERMOTT (D.-WASH.): Walk with me.

Congressman, when you were in Baghdad, you were reported as saying that-

MCDERMOTT: Who are you with?


MCDERMOTT: What’s that?

It’s a national conservative weekly.


You were reported as saying that President Bush "would mislead the American people" on Iraq. You said we should take the Iraqis’ words "at face value," and you’ve taken a lot of criticism for the remark. But I was just wondering if you stand by those remarks, or if you feel they were taken out of context, or if you would back away from them?

MCDERMOTT: Well, you know, the issue here is not those remarks. It’s the issue of whether or not we’re going to take the President’s excuses for going to war rather than settling things diplomatically. The President has said, ‘It’s al Qaeda-oh no, it’s not al Qaeda, it’s weapons of mass destruction-oh, no, it’s al Qaeda.’ And it’s very hard to tell what the President’s case really is, but I don’t think he’s made the case for going to war. I think that all the members ought to think about that and decide for themselves whether they’ve been convinced or not.

Okay. But [even if you were to assume] that the President’s case is very weak, some people say that for a congressman to go to Baghdad, Saddam Hussein’s capital, and to say [Bush] would mislead the American people-to question his character, basically, his integrity-they’ve been especially critical because of that, the remarks.

MCDERMOTT: Those people who are defending the President are going to say anything they can, anything they want to, to defend him. But the question still remains: Do you want to go to war? Nobody’s going over there to look. People need to go over there and look at what we’re going to put our kids in. I don’t remember what part Trent Lott played in the Vietnam War, but people like that, I don’t pay much attention.


Do you agree with Congressman Jim McDermott’s statement from Baghdad that President Bush "would mislead the American people" when it comes to Iraq?

MARTY MEEHAN (D.-MASS.): I don’t have any comment.


Excuse me, Congresswoman Sanchez? I’m David Freddoso from HUMAN EVENTS.



SANCHEZ: HUMAN EVENTS? I don’t even know that magazine.

Yes, we’re a national conservative weekly.

SANCHEZ: Conservative! (Laughs.)

Yes. . . I’m asking if you agree with what Congressman Jim McDermott said in Baghdad, that-

SANCHEZ: Oh, I don’t want to make any comment on that.


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