This week’s Democratic radio response to President Bush’s radio address was given by the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Rep. Tom Lantos (D-CA). The topic of the response was President Bush’s Iraq war policy.

In a move that was designed to distance the Democrats from the now infamous ad, Lantos began by saying, “Two of our nation’s most capable public servants came before Congress this week to report on the situation in Iraq. We assured them of our esteem for their professionalism. We emphasized that Americans admire the heroism of our men and women in uniform and the dedication of our diplomatic corps in Iraq, and we fully understand the terrible burden placed on their families.”  

Lantos then talked about the “impossible task” that Gen. Petraus and Ambassador Crocker were given last week.  “But when the Administration sent them to speak with Congress, General David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker were given an impossible task: to restore credibility to a discredited policy. We and the American people already know that the situation in Iraq is grim, and the growing majority of this Congress and of the American people want our troops out.”  

“Strategically, the escalation has failed. It was intended to buy time for Iraqi Prime Minister al-Maliki and the other Iraqi political leaders to find ways to move toward the one thing that may end this terrible civil conflict – a political settlement. As best we can see, that time has been utterly squandered. Prime Minister Maliki has not shown the slightest inclination to move in the direction of compromise,” Lantos said.  

After criticizing the shortcomings of the Iraqii government, he continued,  “In Iraq today, we are ruining our military, forcing their families to suffer needlessly, and sacrificing the lives of American men and women in uniform. The enormous financial cost of this war is limiting our ability to address our global security interests, such as the unfinished hunt for the perpetrators of the attacks on our country six years ago.”

He mentioned how the war is not helping in the battle against international terrorism, then suggested that war is costing Americans on the domestic policy side too. “The war is also forcing us to give short shrift to pressing domestic needs such as health care, crumbling infrastructure, and public education. These costs will be passed on to our grandchildren, and beyond.”

Lantos wrapped up by saying that America’s patience with this war has run out, and he called for a change in course. “We all heard the President on Thursday night. We can expect the Administration to continue asking for more money, more patience, and more sacrifices from our troops – all in the belief that our continued intervention in Iraq will eventually bear fruit. But this approach is not a strategy. And Americans’ patience with this war has run out. The United States needs a new direction in its policy on Iraq. The situation calls for a change of course. We need to get out of Iraq, for that country’s sake as well as our own.”

Much of this radio address today was the same counterargument against the war that the Democrats have been making for well over a year now, but there are a couple of things that are worth pointing out here. First, the Democrats are trying to distance themselves from the ad, which I find this rather silly because the the Democratic Party had nothing to with the ad. Second, notice how Lantos said that change is needed, but he stopped short of suggesting that Democrats will deliver the change.

This response is part of the Democratic Congress’s lowered expectations strategy for the war. It seems that the Democrats are no longer willing to try and end this war. They would be happy just to slow it down a bit, until after the 2008 election.So that means that those who against this war are left with two unacceptable choices. They can either vote for the Republicans stay the course strategy, or they can stick with the Democrats and hope that the problem is really George W. Bush.

However, I think the Democrats deserve to be punished for their constant inability to stand up to the president on the most important issue in  American politics today, but the Republican option is even worse than what the Democrats are offering. In short, the Democrats have been a disappointment, but the Republicans are only offering the prospect of more war, and I think they both have failed the American people.

Full text of Lantos’s response

Jason Easley is the politics editor at His column The Political Universe appears on Tuesdays and Fridays.

Jason is also the host of TPU Radio, which can be heard at every Sunday morning at 11 AM ET.

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