On Tuesday Rep. Mike Pence (R.-Ind.) gave a great speech on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives that hasn’t gotten enough attention. He was speaking about the Democrats’ menu of plans to lose in Iraq and pointed out something almost everyone else had missed: the fact that even the LA Times and the Washington Post are very critical of the Pelosicrats and their irresponsible approach to the war. Pence’s remarks deserve to be read in full, because they show how far out of line, and out of the mainstream, the Democrats really are.
"In January, President Bush outlined his plan to win the war in Iraq. Last week Speaker Pelosi outlined the Democrat plan to end the war in Iraq.
The only problem with that is that as George Orwell wrote, “The quickest way to end a war is to lose it.” I believe that the Democrat plan to micromanage our war in Iraq with benchmarks and deadlines for withdrawal is a prescription for retreat and defeat.
Common sense and the Constitution teach us that Congress can declare war; a Congress can fund or choose not to fund war, but Congress must not ever attempt to conduct war.
I urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to heed the call of the Constitution and common sense and reject the Pelosi Plan for retreat and defeat in Iraq.
It turns out that I am not actually alone in my concern about the constitutionality and the common sense value of the current plan for withdrawal from Iraq being propounded by the majority.
The newspaper of record in home state of Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the Los Angeles Times, wrote an editorial yesterday under the title “Do we really need a General Pelosi?” They added, “Congress can cut funding for Iraq but it shouldn’t micromanage the war.”
Allow me to quote further from yesterday’s lead editorial in the Los Angeles Times: “After weeks of internal strife, House Democrats have brought forth their proposal for forcing President Bush to withdrawal U.S. troops from Iraq by 2008.” The L.A. Times said, “the plan is an unruly mess: bad public policy, bad precedent, and bad politics.”
"If the legislation passes, Bush says he’ll veto it," they wrote, "as well he should." The Los Angeles Times editorial board went on, “It was one thing for the House to pass a nonbinding vote of disapproval. It’s quite another for it to set out a detailed timetable with specific benchmarks and conditions for the continuation of the conflict.”
The LA Times asked, “Imagine if Dwight Eisenhower had been forced to adhere to a congressional war plan in scheduling the Normandy landings or if, in 1863, President Lincoln had been forced by Congress to conclude the Civil War by the following year.” They conclude, “This is the worst kind of congressional meddling in military strategy.”
Adding, “By interfering with the discretion of the commander-in-chief and military leaders in order to fulfill domestic political needs, Congress undermines whatever prospects remain of a successful outcome.”
And even in today’s Washington Post, another lion of the liberal media in America, under the headline lead editorial, The Pelosi Plan for Iraq, they write and I quote: “In short, the Democrat proposal to be taken up this week is an attempt to impose detailed management on a war without regard to the war itself.”
The Washington Post adds, “Congress should rigorously monitor the Iraqi government’s progress on those benchmarks. By Mr. Bush’s own account the purpose of the troop surge in Iraq is to enable political progress. If progress does not occur, the military strategy should be reconsidered.”
But here is the key line in the Washington Post’s lead editorial today, “But aggressive oversight is quite different from mandating military steps according to an inflexible timetable conforming to the need to capture votes in Congress or at the 2008 polls.”
It is truly extraordinary how politics, and common sense, and the Constitution can make such strange bedfellows.
I scarcely think that I have ever come to the floor of this House and quoted at any length the lead editorial in the Washington Post or the Los Angeles Times. Those two newspapers tend to bookend the country from a liberal perspective in the media.
But in both cases, both newspapers have identified what I asserted in the beginning. That my colleagues should heed the call of the Constitution and common sense and reject the Pelosi plan for retreat and defeat in Iraq. It is the purview of the Congress to declare war. It is the purview of this Congress to vote up or down on whether we should continue to fund military operations.
And I would never question that right. But it is not the purview of the Congress, according to our history, and Constitution and tradition to interpose our will, our decisions, and our timetables on military commanders in the field.
I’ll close by simply saying that we do have but one choice in Iraq and that is victory. And it is my hope and prayer that after much political debate here in Congress we will give our soldiers the resources they need to achieve victory in Iraq and bring home a much-deserved freedom for those good people and another victory for freedom for the American people."
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