Day 70 and Counting

Over the weekend I saw a moving clip from Senator John McCain’s speech before the Virginia Military Institute. “Before I left for Iraq,” McCain noted, “I was watching with regret as the House of Representatives voted to deny our troops the support necessary to carry out their new mission. Democratic leaders smiled and cheered as the last votes were counted. What were they celebrating? Defeat? Surrender? In Iraq, only our enemies were cheering.” And yet, the Democratic leadership continues to put politics before substance by pressing on with a bill that limits the ability of commanders in the field to make tactical decisions while putting up an artificial timeline that tells the enemy how long it will take before we leave in defeat.

By contrast, the president spoke before a group of families who either had a loved one in harm’s way or a loved one who had paid the ultimate sacrifice protecting America in the War on Terrorism. The president noted that 70 days ago he asked the Congress to provide much-needed resources to ensure our troops had the equipment and supplies necessary to carry out their jobs on the battlefield. Seventy days later, the Congress has still failed to answer this pressing need.

As the president said earlier today, “I understand Republicans and Democrats in Washington have differences over the best course in Iraq. That’s healthy. That’s normal.” What is not normal is the manner in which leaders in Congress have sought to make this a partisan political issue rather than leaving politics aside to provide for our men and women in uniform. We can only hope that when the president welcomes congressional leaders to the White House later this week that all sides will put their differences aside to support our troops. The president has done so already — it is long past time for Democratic leaders in the Congress to do the same. Our men and women in uniform should not be held hostage to the whims of armchair generals on Capitol Hill more eager to inflict pain on the president than the enemy abroad that seeks to hurt us all.