"I can't help but feel through eyes of a combat-wounded Marine in Vietnam, if someone was shot, you tried to save his life. . . . While you were in combat, you had a sense of urgency to end the slaughter, and around here we don't have that sense of urgency," said Rep. Wayne T. Gilchrest (Md.), a usually soft-spoken Republican who has urged his leaders to challenge the White House on Iraq. "To me, the administration does not act like there's a war going on. The Congress certainly doesn't act like there's a war going on. If you're raising money to keep the majority, if you're thinking about gay marriage, if you're doing all this other peripheral stuff, what does that say to the guy who's about ready to drive over a land mine?"(snip)
Rep. Thaddeus McCotter (R-Mich.), who supports the war, called the resolution "strategically nebulous and morally obtuse."(snip)
Rep. Ray LaHood (R-Ill.) called the entire exercise "a dumb idea" that will highlight precisely the issue that is threatening Republican political fortunes.(snip)
"When the country is war-weary, when the violence is still playing out on TV, I don't know why we want to highlight all that," he said.
Gilchrest, who won the Purple Heart and Bronze Star for his Marine service in Vietnam in the 1960s, believes political considerations have already played too large a role in the debate. In November, after Rep. John P. Murtha (D-Pa.) announced his support for a rapid withdrawal from Iraq, Republican leaders hastily pushed a resolution to the House floor calling for immediate pull-out. But the cursory two-hour debate was noteworthy less for serious policy discourse than for the suggestion by the House's newest member, Rep. Jean Schmidt (R-Ohio), that Murtha, a decorated war veteran, was a coward.
"It was ludicrous," Gilchrest said. "It had nothing to do with saving lives. It had nothing to do with the war. It was one-upsmanship against the Democrats."
"This is nothing more or less than really a charade," said Rep. Walter B. Jones Jr. (R-N.C.), who made headlines in the run-up to the Iraq invasion by changing french fries to "freedom fries" in the House dining room but has since turned strongly against the war.