"I supported our original mission, which was humanitarian in nature and limited in scope. I can no longer support a continued United States presence ... because the nature of the mission is now unrealistic and because the scope of our mission is now limitless. . . Mr. President, it is no small feat for a superpower to accept setback on the world stage, but a step backward is sometimes the wisest course. I believe that withdrawal is now the more prudent option."
"I cannot support a failed foreign policy. History teaches us that it is often easier to make war than peace. This administration is just learning that lesson right now. The President began this mission with very vague objectives and lots of unanswered questions. A month later, these questions are still unanswered. There are no clarified rules of engagement. There is no timetable. There is no legitimate definition of victory. There is no contingency plan for mission creep. There is no clear funding program. There is no agenda to bolster our over-extended military. There is no explanation defining what vital national interests are at stake. There was no strategic plan for war when the President started this thing, and there still is no plan today"
Even President Bush agrees:
"I think it's also important for the president to lay out a timetable as to how long they will be involved and when they will be withdrawn."
House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) has even voted for withdrawal and for cutting off funding. Wow, the Republicans have really done an about face on timetable for withdrawals. These are some outstanding voices for a reasonable exit strategy in Iraq!
Except as we know, these were not comments or votes on Iraq. They were Republican statements on Somalia and Kosovo when Bill Clinton was Commander in Chief. Apparently, it's okay to be for timetables, exit strategies, withdrawal and cutting off funding for a war - as long as there is a Democratic president!
There are a lot more Republican quotes where those came from. You can read some more of the hypocritical comments here and here. You can read John McCain and other Republicans clamor for an exit strategy out of Kosovo here.
But what is most amazing is that Congress voted to cut off funding for our effort in Somalia - and no one brings this up. It's as if it never happened. Now, everyone talks about cutting off funding for the war as if this is the first time anyone has ever proposed the idea. Was the media born yesterday?
Of course, Vietnam also ended when Congress cut off funding. Does no one remember this? But I think Somalia is more instructive because a lot of the same Republicans in Congress voted to cut off funding for our troops for that conflict, but think it is treasonous when it comes to this one. Why won't anyone point out this enormous hypocrisy?
By the way, look at the Tom DeLay quote again. He was insistent on timetable for withdrawal a month into Kosovo. A month! The Iraq War has been going on for over four and a half years now and the Democrats still can't muster up the courage to demand a mandatory withdrawal. They are politely asking for a voluntary withdrawal if the president is in the mood. Have two political parties ever been so different before?
John Boehner is the House Republican leader now and he voted to impose a timeline for withdrawal in Somalia, voted to move up the deadline for removing our troops from that country and even voted to cut off all funding to our troops in the field in that conflict.
I'm sorry back then it was "cutting off funding for the war" and now it's "cutting off funding for the troops." That framing is critical and it is a distinction completely unsupported by the facts. Hello, Democrats, how about you fight back against it?
The only Democratic senator I have seen who points this out is Senator Feingold. Why aren't the Democrats drilling these points home at every opportunity as we debate whether we should set a timetable for withdrawal from Iraq now? You don't think that it might be relevant that Republicans loved timetables for withdrawal just a short time ago?
Every single interview with a Democrat should start with President Bush's 1999 quote from above and have the Democrat saying, "We agree with President Bush that a timetable for withdrawal is critical." You are letting them get away with astounding hypocrisy when you don't bring up their statements and votes from a few, short years ago.
Meanwhile, does the press not have access to Google? Why don't they ever question Republicans on their votes for withdrawal and cutting off funding in Somalia?
By the way, the correct answer for the different votes is that different situations call for different solutions. But that's not what the Republicans are saying now. They are saying that cutting off funding for our troops is never acceptable. That's the obvious lie that must be exposed.