Wednesday, February 21, 2007

A bad day for troops, and for the country

Rep. Mike Simpson, R-Idaho, is the state's senior delegate in the House of Representatives. He is serving his fifth term for the state's 2nd Congressional District, which includes Blaine County.

Madame Speaker, I rise today not because I want to take part in this debate, but because I am ashamed that this Congress is engaging in it at all.

I've heard a lot of posturing so far this week. I've heard a lot of hyperbole and a lot of revisionist history. I've also heard some things that just don't mesh with reality. I don't think that everything my colleagues say is completely honest. So, for a moment, let's be honest—because that is the least we owe to our constituents and to the men and women who are fighting this war.

I am willing to admit that if Congress knew in 2002 what it knows today it might not have voted to authorize the war. Knowing that Saddam Hussein apparently did not have weapons of mass destruction, Congress might have preferred to contain him, perhaps bomb him, strengthen international sanctions, and work with our allies in the region to undermine his regime.

But we can't go back to 2002 and redo that vote. We have to deal with the situation that is currently before us. And what is before us right now is a congressional resolution that undermines our troops while they are in the middle of fighting a war that Congress sent them to fight. I do not understand why my colleagues on the other side of the aisle don't see that.

For just a moment, I want to ask my colleagues to put themselves in the positions of the thousands of soldiers on the ground in Iraq. What would you think if you learned that the very people who sent you to fight this war are now saying that they don't support what you are doing? On the ground in Iraq, there are two things that keep you going: the thought of returning home to your family and the knowledge that you are doing something to protect your nation from terrorism. But if Congressional Democrats have their way today, they will take away from our soldiers the support of their Congress and of their country. What a terrible message to send to these brave soldiers.

For just a moment, put yourself in the shoes of the terrorists. What would you think when you heard the U.S. Congress is voting against the war? You would think you were winning. You would be encouraged by the news. You would think that everything Osama Bin Laden had said about Americans had been true all along. You would think that Americans cannot stand bloodshed and will cower from the fight. You would think that they don't have the stomach for a long-term battle and if the terrorists just hold on, the United States will eventually leave with its tail between its legs. What a terrible message to send at the exact moment that we are preparing to send more troops into battle.

At some point, my colleagues across the aisle have to let go of the fact that their newfound opposition to the War in Iraq is popular in their districts and act in the best interests for the future of our nation. This resolution isn't a diversion, a sideshow, or even a shot across the bow. It is a dangerous message to send.

I don't say any of this lightly, and I don't say it for political reasons. I say it because I mean it. In 2006, I was the only Republican to vote against the rule when my party tried to embarrass (Congressman John) Murtha. Then, I thought that my party was playing games with the war, and I refused to support that effort. Today, I think the other party is playing games with the war, and I refuse to have any part of this.

I would rather we consider a motion to pull all of our troops out of Iraq immediately than vote on this Democrat resolution that undermines our troops while at the same time puts them in harm's way. This resolution is the worst of all worlds.

My final thought today is that it is clear to many of us that this resolution is simply a Democratic attempt to embarrass President Bush. My friends across the aisle know they cannot impeach him. They know they cannot change the fact that many of them voted for the War in Iraq. And most of them recognize the dangers of voting to de-fund the war. So, instead, they are trying to embarrass the president.

I say fine, embarrass the president. Send him a message that you are now in charge. Remind him that voters demanded change last November. Do whatever you need to do, but don't undermine our troops in the process. Leave them out of your plans for payback because they did nothing to attract your anger or frustration.

Madame Speaker, what we are doing today is wrong. We're better than this. We're smarter than this. We're above using the war, and our troops, for political gain. What the Democrats are doing with this resolution is not just intellectually dishonest; it is morally bankrupt.

Thank you, Madame Speaker.

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