Beyond "Small Price": Boehner's Iraq Demagoguery
Twenty four hours after his reprehensible remark about the "small price" the U.S. is paying in Iraq, House Minority Leader John Boehner appears to be paying no price himself. While DNC Chairman Howard Dean and House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-SC) took Boehner to task, the mainstream media has remained largely silent. And far from disqualifying Boehner as a Republican mouthpiece on Iraq, diminishing the sacrifices of U.S. troops, leaking classified national security information and weeping on the floor of the U.S. House has apparently earned him a privileged position as prized Bush confidant.
On Tuesday, Boehner's defense of President Bush's Iraq surge was callous even by Republican standards:
"We need to continue our effort here because, Wolf, long term, the investment that we're making today will be a small price if we're able to stop al Qaeda here, if we're able to stabilize the Middle East, it's not only going to be a small price for the near future, but think about the future for our kids and their kids."
Disgusting as that may be, it is hardly the first instance of Boehner's demagoguery on Iraq. During the House Iraq debate in February, Boehner gave an Oscar-worthy performance uniquely combining Republican rage and feigned sorrow. As the AP reported:
"We will embolden terrorists in every corner in the world. We will give Iran free access to the Middle East. And who doesn't believe the terrorists will just follow our troops home?"
Boehner teared up before reporters as he listened to Rep. Sam Johnson, R-Texas, describe being a prisoner of war in Vietnam and learning of U.S. protests back home.
In May, Boehner again resorted to tears - and revisionist history - crying on the House floor as he pleaded for passage of the President's $100 billion Iraq funding request:
Members on both sides of the aisle feel differently about our mission in Iraq and our chances of success there,” Boehner said, pausing to compose himself. As he continued, Boehner began to weep openly, crying out: “After 3,000 of our fellow citizens died at the hands of these terrorists, when are we going to stand up and take them on? When are we going to defeat them?"
Boehner's banality was also on display during that same debate, as he compared the American fiasco in Iraq to his own travails as a small business owner:
"I used to run a small business. I owned a small business. I have benchmarks every month, but if I didn't meet the benchmarks and if I missed the profit margin, I didn't shut down the business."
Dating back to 2006, it was Boehner who emerged as the architect of Congressional GOP messages on Iraq. His June 2006 memo declared:
"Americans will recognize that on the issue of national security, they have a clear choice between a Republican Party aware of the stakes and dedicated to victory, versus a Democrat Party without a coherent national security policy that sheepishly dismisses the challenges America faces in a post- 9/11 world."
Boehner's hyper-partisanship extends beyond Iraq to illegal NSA domestic surveillance and the use of torture. It was, after all, Boehner's timely leak of classified details of the supposed "intelligence gap" created by a FISA judge's ruling helped drive the passage of the disastrous Protect America Act codifying the Bush administration's lawbreaking on domestic surveillance. And in the run-up to the 2006 mid-terms, Boehner went on the warpath to sell the Military Commissions Act - and the demise of habeas corpus:
"The Democrats' partisan opposition to this program, at the urging of the radical leftist element of their Party, provides further proof that they continue to put politics ahead of addressing the security concerns of the American people...it underscores why the American people don't trust Democrats when it comes to national and homeland security."
By October, President Bush was parroting Boehner's venom, declaring "however they put it, the Democrat approach in Iraq comes down to this: the terrorists win and America loses." It's no wonder that as Americans – and many in his own party – withdraw support from the beleaguered and battered Bush, the President now view John Boehner as one his closest friends and advisers.
Back in May, John Boehner himself wavered briefly in his steadfast support of President Bush's path to perdition in Iraq. "By the time we get to September or October, members are going to want to know how well this is working, and if it isn't, what's Plan B?" But as his "small price" comment shows, as President Bush prepares to address the nation regarding a perpetual American presence in Iraq, John Boehner once again is ready to get his hate on.
And again, it seems, Boehner will pay no price for it.