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Stanton: Democrats damned by Iraq war vote

On Iraq, Democrats are damned if they do or if they don’t, as Tucson’s congressional duo illustrates.

President Bush painted Congress into a corner 10 days ago with his vow to veto any plan to gradually withdraw our troops.

Facing a supplemental funding bill to carry on the war, our southern Arizona Democrats went separate ways May 24.

U.S. Rep. Raúl Grijalva voted against the bill.

He said he couldn’t in good conscience support the continuation of “an unaccountable war without end.”

“I’ve done the compromise, loyalty thing twice,” Grijalva said. “Now we’re at a threshold point.

“I’m glad for the amount of people who voted no. We need to show a little more spine as a party.”

U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, whose district encompasses Davis-Monthan Air Force Base and Fort Huachuca, voted for the bill.

“I cannot, in good conscience, allow the military to run out of money while American servicemen and women are being attacked every day,” Giffords said.

It’s hard to argue with either’s vote of conscience. Nonetheless, both will come under fire.

Giffords already has.

Saturday, at a Tucson Safeway where she was meeting with constituents, one woman carried a cardboard sign criticizing Giffords’ supposed support for the war.

That’s a bit disingenuous, considering that Giffords voted against Bush’s surge plan and voted four times for a bill that would tie the troops’ appropriations to firm timetables for responsible, phased withdrawal.

Grijalva opponents likely will try to twist his vote as well, perhaps painting him as unsupportive of our troops, despite his strong support by Tucson troops and veterans.

Similar twists of the truth will plague Democrats across the country, though it is Bush who set this stage.

And it is Bush who repeatedly has refused to even consider a gradual withdrawal of troops, despite the American people’s overwhelming desire to end this war and their growing discontent with the president.

Democrats and enlightened Republicans had hoped to inject sanity into the scenario in September, when Gen. David Patraeus will tell us what we already know.

The troop surge isn’t working; the war strategy is failing. That’s the report expected from our top commander in Iraq.

Indeed, a military assessment three months into the “surge” shows the troops have secured less than one-third of Baghdad’s neighborhoods, falling far short of the goal, The New York Times reported Monday.

But the powers that be in Washington, D.C., await Patraeus’ report, hoping Bush will use the general’s update as cause to finally change course.

Don’t hold your breath. The administration already is hinting at keeping a military force in Iraq for years, even decades, the Times said.

Between now and September, only one thing is certain: Hundreds more U.S. soldiers will be killed and maimed, as will hundreds of Iraqi civilians.

And for all the flag-waving and patriotism we’re so desperate to embrace, good Americans still have to question the logic.

If we know what’s coming in September and what will keep happening until then, why wait?

Don’t ask Grijalva or Giffords, though. That’s a question only Bush can answer.

Billie Stanton may be reached at 573-4664 or bstanton@tucsoncitizen.com.

Citizen Online Archive, 2006-2009

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