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Republicans Abandon Their President


(Photo via AP/Ron Edmonds, whose portfolio throughout the Bush Administration has been excellent.  Great eye. — Christy)

Yesterday afternoon, tracing the reactions to Bush’s speech and after Secretaries Gates and Rice appeared before Congress, the ever vigilant Chris Bowers over at MyDD compiled a list of quotes from 12 Republican Senators who expressed concerns or opposition to the President’s Iraq escalation plans, noting how many of the Republican Senators are up for reelection in 2008. The number is important because Democrats may need to override a Presidential veto to stop this madness, and they’ll have to do it without Lieberman. In last night’s threads, Firedoglake commenters tracked down some of the media links to those and other quotes, which I’ve included below. Thanks to RevDeb, Valley Girl, Ed*ward Teller and others for their efforts. There are some surprises among the Senators.

We have come to expect opposition to President Bush's Iraq policies from a tiny handful of Republicans like Sen. Chuck Hagel R-Neb. From MSNBC:

“This is a dangerously wrong-headed strategy that will drive America deeper into an unwinnable swamp at a great cost,” Sen. Chuck Hagel, R-Neb., a member of the Foreign Relations Committee, said in a statement.

Hagel, saying it was “wrong to place American troops into the middle of Iraq’s civil war,” warned that Bush’s plan would “cost more American lives, sink us deeper into the bog of Iraq; making it more difficult to get out; cost billions of dollars more; [and] further strain an American military that has already reached its breaking point.”

And from an AP report:

"I think this speech given last night by this president represents the most dangerous foreign policy blunder in this country since Vietnam, if it's carried out," said Sen. Chuck Hagel [AP]

And perhaps we're not too surprised by this in the MSNBC story from Sen. Susan Collins of Maine:

“In Baghdad, the violence is clearly sectarian, and I don’t think more troops is the answer to the sectarian violence,” Collins said.

And we already knew about this, from Sen. Gordon Smith of Oregon:

''I, for one, am at the end of my rope when it comes to supporting a policy that has our soldiers patrolling the same streets in the same way, being blown up by the same bombs day after day,'' Mr. Smith said. ''That is absurd. It may even be criminal. I cannot support that anymore. I believe we need to figure out how to fight the war on terror and to do it right. So either we clear and hold and build, or let's go home.''

But we weren't expecting this in the MSNBC story from Sen. Sam Brownback of Kansas:

“I do not believe that sending more troops to Iraq is the answer,” said Brownback, who, like Hagel, is believed to be exploring a presidential bid. “We cannot achieve a political solution while a military solution is imposed. The best way to reach a democratic Iraq is to empower the Iraqis to take responsibility for their own nation building.”

The LA Times picks up on the theme:

Sen. George Voinovich (R-Ohio), who until now has supported the war, said he no longer believes the civil war in Iraq can be tamed by sending more U.S. troops to aid in the fight.

"We don't want any more American soldiers killed … in the name of civil war," he said, noting that the letter he sends to families of fallen soldiers now has to be rewritten, not to praise them for dying in a grand cause but in the name of security. "I've gone along with the president's dream," he said. "I just don't think it's going to happen."

Sen. Norm Coleman (R-Minn.), questioning the Iraqi government's resolve to crack down on sectarian violence, asked, "Why put more Americans on the line now in hopes that this time they will make the right decision? Fooled twice, shame on me."

And from McClatchy Washington Bureau:

"I'm not convinced, as I look to the plan that the president presented yesterday, that what we are seeing is that much different than what we have been doing in the past," said Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska.

Crooks and Liars also has the video on Condi’s exchange with Hagel, and the quotes are here from the AP report.

Rice engaged in several tense exchanges with members, including with Hagel, a Vietnam veteran and longtime critic of Bush's Iraq policy. She disputed his characterization of Bush's buildup as an "escalation."

"Putting in 22,000 more troops is not an escalation?" Hagel asked. Responded Rice: "I think, senator, escalation is not just a matter of how many numbers you put in."

"Would you call it a decrease?" Hagel asked.

"I would call it, senator, an augmentation that allows the Iraqis to deal with this very serious problem that they have in Baghdad," she said.

The evening talks shows were even more devastating for Bush. Keith Olbermann did another awesome special commentary which C&L has up in case you missed it, and the usual suspects on Scarborough were nearly apoplectic with fear over the prospects that Bush was leading the country into war with Iran and Syria. If C&L can get the shots of Joe Klein describing Bush, we’ll add a link.

The Administration knows they're in trouble when Secretary of State Rice (before the Senate) and press secretary Tony Snow (on Hardball) go out of their way to deny the President's plan is an "escalation" and insist on calling this an "augmentation" — and instead of buying it, everyone just gets angrier at them. Instead of rallying the nation, they’re scaring it with their provocations against Iran. In an apparent reminder of how dangerous this is, the US Embassy has now been attacked in Greece.

This is a very dangerous moment, because this Administration is desperate. They know they've lost the confidence of the American people, but they’re not listening. They're losing the war in Iraq and losing the war of language at home. And now the President may be losing his own party. This Administration is in freefall, and they’ve thrown back every life line that’s been handed to them. So be it.

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John has been writing for Firedoglake since 2006 or so, on whatever interests him. He has a law degree, worked as legal counsel and energy policy adviser for a state energy agency for 20 years and then as a consultant on electricity systems and markets. He's now retired, living in Massachusetts.

You can follow John on twitter: @JohnChandley