Recently, two local Republicans (who I’ve had the honor of working with over the past few years)—Holly Schwefel & Jim Kiser—had this editorial published in the Reporter:
“The probability that we may fall in the struggle ought not to deter us from the support of a cause we believe to be just; it shall not deter me.” — Abraham Lincoln
These words are as true today as they were nearly 200 years ago.
We are in a struggle. We have endured falls. We are not only at war, but we are in a fight for our lives and for the very existence of this country that we so dearly love.
It is easy to forget this reality as we tend to our daily business. It’s easy to separate ourselves over time from the terrorist attacks five years ago that catapulted our nation into this war. It’s easy to say, “Stop the war, bring home the troops, and give peace a chance,” yet have no other credible plan.
However, no one ever said this was going to be easy. No one ever promised that the terrorists would lie down and surrender their weapons and their ideologies and their hatred. In fact, President Bush warned from the very beginning that this would be a long battle and that it would require much sacrifice, not only from the American military, but from the American people.
Only two weeks ago, the U.S. House of Representatives, with the support of 17 wayward “Republicans,” decided to take the easy way out through passage of a resolution condemning President Bush’s plan for a troop surge.
Their very public vote now deserves a very public response. In supporting this resolution, these “Republicans” gave our troops and our president a vote of no confidence. They gave not only hope, but validation to the enemy — the terrorists that would rejoice to see you and me dead in the streets.
These “Republicans” told the enemy that if they only resist long enough, America will give up and turn its back on our friends. These “Republicans” sent a message across the globe that not even the Bush Administration’s own party is willing to stand up for what is right.
But worst of all, these 17 Republicans turned their backs on the people who elected them — the same people who re-elected President Bush because of his tough action against terror and for his ability to lead during times of crisis.
Why is it so difficult for these Republicans to see how much their actions affect the morale of our soldiers and their families? Why are they so blinded by stature and chairmanships and re-election campaigns? Why do we stand by while they continue to prove how out of touch they are with our American way of life?
True Republicans support “peace through strength,” which does not mean looking for a fight, but most surely doesn’t mean backing down from one. True Republicans have a fundamental passion for freedom and for protecting that freedom, whatever the cost.
True Republicans work to secure our country today so that the children of tomorrow may have peace. True Republicans never turn their backs on the brave troops who daily risk their lives to ensure that we are able to enjoy all the blessings of this great land.
So, shame on those 17 Republicans for being out of touch with our American reality; shame on them for not recognizing the country’s need for unity rather than politics; shame on them for turning their backs on American troops; shame on them for giving hope to the enemy; and, what a shame it is that in this very Republican Sixth District, our own Congressman Tom Petri was one of those 17.
Predictably, it didn’t take long for a liberal genius to enlighten them:
Mr. (Jim) Kiser and Ms. (Holly) Schwefel, I would like to thank you for your editorial on March 6 concerning Rep. Tom Petri’s recent vote.
The Republicans had complete control of the Executive, Legislative and Judicial branches of our government for six years. They accomplished nothing with Social Security reform, aside from a weak and confusing prescription drug plan. They achieved little to solve the health-care problem, they looked the other way as the president set up secret prisons in Eastern Europe and condoned and even encouraged torture of terrorist suspects, and suspended habeas corpus, a process put in place by civilized society 900 years ago.
I could go on but the point in question is the troop surge in Iraq. We have seen the administration completely mishandle Iraq from the nonexistent WMDs (weapons of mass destruction) to the “stay-the-course” mentality. More than 3,000 soldiers were killed, 25,000 injured and a civil war springing up in the middle of it all. How can anyone have confidence that suddenly, after four years, despite all the signs that tell us otherwise, the tide will be turned and democracy will flourish?
The Republican Party has been hijacked by the neo-conservatives. We need free-thinking politicians who have the personal integrity to do what Rep. Petri did.
When given the choice of what is best for the country and what is best for the party, Mr. Petri chooses the former. You choose the latter and for that you should be deeply ashamed.
If Holly & Jim are blind partisans because they advocate the conservative position on the war, then what does that make Mr. Zeleske, who assails no less than seven supposed Republican flaws, and then raises the Left’s knee-jerk specter of “neo-conservatives”?
(Oh, and I’m sure history books will blame the Right for all of America’s troubles for many years to come—but not because some conservative-induced downfall.)
So what’s my take? I’m cautiously optimistic on the surge. Though I’m not sure 21,000 will be enough troops in the long run, we’re already seeing results:
Bomb deaths have gone down 30 percent in Baghdad since the U.S.-led security crackdown began a month ago. Execution-style slayings are down by nearly half. The once frequent sound of weapons has been reduced to episodic, and downtown shoppers have returned to outdoor markets — favored targets of car bombers. There are signs of progress in the campaign to restore order in Iraq, starting with its capital city.
The plan is substantive enough that it deserves a chance, and the support of all who seriously want victory in Iraq. As a non-binding resolution, this condemnation bill Petri voted for serves no other purpose than to distance politicians from both President Bush and the idea that we’re going to stay in Iraq until the mission is accomplished. Whatever the intentions behind it, the effect is just as my friends said: to give “our troops and our president a vote of no confidence. They gave not only hope, but validation to the enemy.”
Petri’s alternative is to partition Iraq into three basically-autonomous provinces for the Sunnis, Shia, and Kurds. Offhand, here are just a few of the problems I see in this plan: 1.) While certain sects dominate certain parts of Iraq, each has its share of minorities. Does Petri expect that it would be easy (or easier than the surge, at the very least) to forcibly uproot, say, Shiites from their homes in Iraqi Kurdistan & just plop them elsewhere nice & neat? 2.) Petri acknowledges his plan “will require negotiations over territory and oil revenues.” You think THAT’S gonna be a walk in the park? 3.) He also mentions “policing to keep the different parties apart,” which emphasizes that he’s advocating an Iraq governed by religious segregation. Won’t that serve as validation to the various bigotries that animate a segment of the violence in Iraq? After all, saying that segregation is the only way to resolve sectarian animosity suggests that there’s something natural & permanent to it. It seems to me that’s the very opposite of what our war against religious fanaticism should be.
But the real shame in Petri’s vote isn’t rejecting Bush, or touting a foolish alternative. It’s the fact that Petri has kept his mouth pretty much shut about Iraq all this time, and especially the surge plan, which has been on the table since early January. So the man we send to Washington to represent us doesn’t tell us that he opposes a major Republican position until after he casts his vote? That might be Bill Zeleske’s idea of “personal integrity;” it’s not mine.