Pelosi on Republicans: They Like this War

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi said Thursday that she has been surprised at the depth of support for the Iraq War among Republicans in the House of Representatives. AP writes:

‘ “They like this war. They want this war to continue,” Pelosi, D-Calif., told reporters. She expressed frustration over Republicans’ ability to force majority Democrats to yield ground on taxes, spending, energy, war spending and other matters. “We thought that they shared the view of so many people in our country that we needed a new direction in Iraq,” Pelosi said at her weekly news conference in the Capitol. “But the Republicans have made it very clear that this is not just George Bush’s war. This is the war of the Republicans in Congress.” Asked to clarify her remarks, Pelosi backed off a bit. “I shouldn’t say they like the war,” she said. “They support the war, the course of action that the president is on.” “And that was a revelation to me,” she said, “because I thought the American people’s voices were so — and still are — so strong in this regard.” ‘

I don’t doubt that some Republicans like the Iraq War. It after all got a lot of them elected, and has thrown a hefty part of the $500 billion spent on the war so far to their corporate sponsors.

But what really strikes me about the speaker’s remarks is her misreading of the Republicans. She appears to have thought that they had mostly turned against the war in their hearts, and would become allies of the Democrats in ending it. In other words, she seems to have blamed Bush for the war and to have assumed that the Republican representatives would now want to run away from Bush.

But for all the Caesar-like power that Bush claims for his imperial executive, he could not have steam-rollered the country into war if he had not had enablers in the then Republican-controlled Congress.

I understand how one gets to be collegial across the aisle in a body like Congress. That might help explain why Pelosi did not initially believe that her Republican colleagues could possibly be so short-sighted or venal as to actively support the war.

But you just have to contrast the way that the Republicans took power in the House in 1994 with a disciplined plan that shifted resources radically to the Right and took no hostages among their foes. They even dared impeach (in the lesser sense) a very popular Democratic president, as a way of making sure Al Gore never became his successor. In other words, they came to town as ravenous as a horde of marauding Mongols and as mean as a canyon full of rattlesnakes.

Pelosi came to power, in contrast, with a namby-pamby pledge not to impeach Cheney or Bush (and she stiffed Dennis Kucinich, who quite rightly wanted at least to pursue the former). She came to power with no apparent plan to strengthen the key Democratic constituencies or throw resources to them.

And now a year after the Dems took the House back for the first time in 12 years, the Democratic Speaker suddenly realizes that she is facing a phalanx of determined warmongers.

Many (not all) Republicans view themselves as benefitting from prolonging the war. As long as it is still going on, they can’t be accused of having lost it. As long as it is still going on, they may yet show a skeptical American public, or at least the part of it that funds political campaigns, some benefit. As long as it goes on, they can hope to postpone the catastrophe long enough so that if they do lose the presidency, it will tar that Democratic incumbent and help restrict him or her to a single term.

And she thinks they want to end the war?

You have a sinking feeling that a small band of nice gentle hobbits is facing off against the Orcs of Mordor, without any magic rings or even just ordinary armament, and without any over-arching strategy.

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