Sam Brownback did a VERY obnoxious thing today, one which raises serious doubts about his fitness for the presidency. It shows that he does not appreciate the role of commander in chief, and does not appreciate the special responsibility that senators have -- especially senators of the president's own party -- not to undercut the commander in chief in time of war.
Let me explain.
Today, before President Bush even has had a chance to outline his "troop surge" plan to the American people in a nationally televised address, Brownback issued a statement that began: ""I do not believe that sending more troops to Iraq is the answer,"... He then continued with several paragraphs along the same lines.
Now the problem is not that he disagrees with Bush. That's fine. And it would be fine if he listened to the president tonight and then said that, on reflection, he is sorry to disagree. Honest people can disagree. What is obnoxious is to release statements undercutting the president before the president even has a chance to make his case. It completely pulls the rug out from under Bush and discredits Bush before the American people.
The commander in chief is due more respect than that. And he is due the chance to make his case. War is a serious business. Our soldiers' lives are at risk. Our way of life may be at risk. The soldiers answer to the president. They must follow his orders. They must not be put under the impression that what their commander says is not even worth listening to.
There was a time when not even members of the opposition party would do such a thing as Brownback did today. He should be ashamed of himself.
What Brownback really is doing is pandering to popular opinion in an attempt to bolster his presidential campaign. And even if his opposition to the surge is heartfelt and well thought-out, the level of his explanation is pathetically vapid. Here's how he concludes his little attempt at grabbing some cheap attention: "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."
Gee. Wow. That's original. And SO easy to say. The question a serious presidential contender would then answer is, "How?"
Yes, Senator Brownback, just how do you propose to empower the Iraqis to take responsibility for their own nation-building? What would you do that we aren't already doing? It might be a perfectly legitimate position to take if there were at least some meat on those bones. Hell, even Joe Biden has been far more detailed about how HE would go about it. But Brownback just issues his platitudinous sound bites, and leaves it at that. Somehow, I don't remember the good senator having established much of a reputation yet for foreign diplomacy in matters of war and peace. If "empowering the Iraqis" were so easy, why hasn't he, in his infinite wisdom, told us long before now how to do it?
The more I think about this, the more sickened I get. This man is not a serious conservative. He's just another overly ambitious pol.
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