Sunday, June 25, 2006

Two GOP Senators Denounce Description of Democrats As Party of "Retreat" And "Cut and Run"

President Bush has long said that as the Iraqi troops "step up," the U.S.-led coalition will "step down." Separately, Bush and others in the administration have said that Iraqis are increasingly ready to defend themselves against the insurgency.

And, Iraqi leaders have repeatedly said (here, here and here, among others) that it's time to begin discussing troop redeployment.

Given those "facts," Democrats last week offered two proposals on troop redeployment -- one called for troops to be withdrawn by yearend, the other setting a mid-2007 deadline.

Wacky "liberal" thinking? Hardly. Polls last week from Pew Research Center and CNN show that a majority of Americans favor setting a timetable for redeployment; an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll from earlier this month found a majority of Americans want the U.S. to reduce its troop level in Iraq.

Yet some Republicans, looking for an angle to improve their diminishing chances of retaining control of Congress, have turned to name calling, saying the plans amount to little more than "cut and run" or "retreat."

You'd think Republican leaders would move beyond name-calling while the country is at war, and U.S. troop casualties and injuries continue to mount. But this is an election year, and "buzz words" like "cut and run" are easy to digest -- and Republicans en masse are clearly hoping that voters will falsely link Democrats with a white flag being raised.

At least two Republicans in the Senate have a conscience.

During his June 21 statement on the Senate floor, Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-NE) criticized the "catchy political slogans" put forth by his Republican colleagues:

HAGEL: "It should be taken more seriously than to simply retreat into focus-group tested buzz words and phrases like "cut and run," catchy political slogans that debase the seriousness of war."

Sen. Gordon H. Smith (R-OR), while disagreeing with the Democrats' proposals, similarly complained that "I want to express to my colleagues on the other side that the rhetoric is too heated" on the issue and said, "[M]y soul cries out for something more dignified. ... I don’t believe their dissent is unpatriotic."

***

The comments from Hagel and Smith came before a New York Times report yesterday saying that top American commander in Iraq, Gen. George Casey, has drafted a plan to reduce U.S. troops in Iraq -- beginning next year! I wonder if Casey, too, is guilty of wanting to "cut and run."

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